Ngāti Rānana long-time member remembered

By Taroi Black

A longstanding member of Ngāti Rānana (London’s Māori Club), Joylene Winitana Fenikowski, 51, passed away earlier this week in England and will be brought back to Aotearoa by her whānau to her beloved rohe of Te Mahia.

Ngāti Rānana member Lewis Whaitiri said this has brought many members of the rōpū and NZ community members in London together to pay tribute to her.

“Last night, many of our Ngāti Rānana whānau came together to celebrate her life - to sing waiata, to share in kai, to poroporoāki i tēnei māreikura o tātau.”

Mrs Fenikowski (nee Winitana), who is affectionately known to all in London as ‘Mama Joy’, passed away from cancer.

She was a part of the group’s welcome party that conducted the unforgettable pōhiri for the All Blacks during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The longstanding wahine kaihaka played an integral role amongst the club as a ‘ringa raupā' and led many formal gatherings as their main kaikaranga (traditional-caller), guiding visitors into London through a Māori world view. She was instrumental in the maintaining te reo Māori away from her homeland, and was chairperson for their very own kōhanga reo, Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngāti Rānana.

Over a ten year period, Mrs Fenikowski travelled with Ngāti Rānana across the globe, through Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. The rōpū represented Aotearoa at many ANZAC and Waitangi Day events held at Westminster Abbey and performed in front of dignitaries and the Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth II.

In late 2014, the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki took 48 Māori portraits, by late 19th-century painter Gottfried Lindauer, to exhibitions in Berlin, Germany and Pilsen, Czech Republic. Mrs Fenikowski and Ngāti Rānana were at these exhibitions to mark the arrival of the works from New Zealand's shores, where they were painted over 100 years ago.

Photos / Lewis Whaitiri

Ngāti Rānana are preparing for her service this Sunday in London and then her eventual return to her people of Rongomaiwahine in the Hawke's Bay region next Tuesday. Next Friday, Mrs Fenikowski will lay in state at Kaiuku Marae, Te Mahia with her tangihanga next Sunday. She will then be laid to rest at Ruawharawhara urupā, leaving behind her daughter and husband Adam Fenikowski. 

 “We will again bind together in a few days to send her on her final journey back to Te Mahia,” Mr Whaitiri said.

Hātea Kapa Haka, led by Ngāti Rānana member Otene Hopa celebrated her life and contribution to Māori performing arts by dedicating Haruru Ana, one of her most favoured waiata Māori.  Source/Facebook.