The halls are alive with the sound of music. Wiki Karena of Pukenui has taken advantage of the publically accessible Yamaha piano in the atrium at Te Ahu. Each time Wiki arrives in Kaitaia he takes time to tinkle the ivories.

“He loves to play,” says Wiki’s wife Norma, who often accompanies him on his musical forays into the acoustically-interesting atrium at Te Ahu. “The first thing he does in the morning is sit down to play on his piano. All the neighbours open their windows to enjoy the music.”

Wiki Karena was born in Te Kao in 1930. “I taught myself to play a piano that my auntie bought from a teacher leaving Te Kao School.” At the age of twelve Wiki left home to attend the Maori Boy’s Hostel in Auckland. After studying carpentry and completing his trade apprenticeship Wiki began work for Sir James Fletcher, hammering and sawing in state housing in Tamaki, Huntly and other areas. All told he laboured for thirty years on the harbour front in Auckland before retiring.

It was then that the Far North called Wiki home and he and Norma have lived in Pukenui ever since.

Wiki in the Atrium at Te Ahu

Wiki in the Atrium at Te Ahu

Te Ahu’s John Haines says: “Wiki has an uncanny knack for arriving just when a tour or other function is going on, prompting people to think his performance was arranged ahead of time. On the Saturday when Te Ahu’s art space was launched with exhibits by Robin Shepherd and Raewyn Crozier, Wiki was there.” At the time one visitor was overheard saying: “I could be in Auckland. We’ve got coffee, art and music. And this is Kaitaia!”

Wiki free-wheels through a broad range of easy listening favourites from artists as diverse as Perry Como, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Visitors love it and often stop to chat with this talented octogenarian. Wiki takes it all in stride saying: “Not bad for someone who can’t read music.”

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See