Neil Ieremia has received many accolades in his career and was able to share his latest with his Porirua whānau.
The founder and artistic director of dance company Black Grace was formally added to Te Rauparaha Arena’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday after being named as a new inductee last year alongside Ellinore Ginn, James Henry Whittaker and TJ Perenara.
A special event was held at Te Rauparaha Arena to mark the occasion for Ieremia, including an unveiling and speeches.
“The faces in our Hall of Fame speak to the past, the present and the future,” said Porirua City Council General Manager Community and Partnerships Reuben Friend.
“Adding Neil’s image to this area is our way of thanking him for the inspiration he has brought to our city.”
Ieremia, born in Cannons Creek, founded Black Grace, a predominantly male Pacific Island and Māori dance company, in 1995. The company has earned renown nationally and internationally, having toured Australia, the USA and Europe.
Ieremia has also won many awards and was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016 for services to dance.
At the unveiling, Ieremia’s brother, Namulau’ulu Lale Ieremia, spoke on behalf of the family.
“Neil’s ability to tell a story that was born here that is spread across the world speaks to the strength of our roots,” he said.
“This is a pretty proud occasion for our family – our youngest sibling making the biggest impact, not just in Porirua but the world, and especially the Pacific.”
He said when Black Grace was in its early days, the performers were all people Ieremia had grown up with.
“It was great to see all these boys from Cannons Creek jumping around on the stage, especially for those who found it hard to see a future – to get up there and perform.”
Having his photo on display in the Hall of Fame in Te Rauparaha Arena is somewhat of a full-circle moment for Ieremia, as his first time performing was at the Arena’s predecessor – the Recreation Centre.
The Hall of Fame celebrates those who have had a lasting positive impact on Porirua. Other Hall of Fame members include softball legend Don Tricker, writer Patricia Grace, diplomat Russell Marshall and golfer Michael Campbell.
7 Sep 2022