The Language of Kapa Haka

When 36 kapa haka groups took to the stage for the National Secondary Schools’ Māori Performing Arts Competition 2008 and more than 200 kaumātua took to the stage for Matariki celebrations at Te Papa, te reo Māori resonated. “Kapa haka, through powerful and exciting performances, is a fantastic way to enjoy and celebrate Māori language and culture. It contributes to Māori language being a living and developing language,” says Huhana Rokx, Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. “Many great leaders before us saw the potential of song and performance to retain, celebrate and enjoy our Māori language. The late Tuini Ngawai, a famous composer, wrote more than 200 songs. Under her tutelage, her niece Ngoi Pewhairangi also wrote many well-known songs, including ‘E Ipo’ and ‘Poi E’. They were unrelenting in their work to advance Māori language and culture through song writing and performing. “Kapa haka, and the fierce competition between teams, creates stellar performances and takes our language onto local, regional, national and international stages. Kapa haka contributes to te reo Māori being heard, enjoyed and shared,” says Huhana Rokx.