Te Aitanga a Hauiti having fun, key to win

This summer the National Kapa Haka Festival, produced by Te Matatini will be hosted by the Waitaha Rohe.

This summer the National Kapa Haka Festival, produced by Te Matatini will be hosted by the Waitaha Rohe.

The Festival will be held from 4-8 March 2015 and will be held at the iconic central Hagley Park located at the heart of the nation's Garden City, Christchurch.

For four days 45 teams from Australia and across New Zealand will compete for the national title to be crowned winner at the 22nd biennial Festival.

Over 1800 performers and a workforce of 1000 (including 400 registered volunteers) will help to bring the Festival alive and provide a number of fun-filled activities for children and exhibits for families to enjoy.

Whether it be haka admirers, novices, performing arts lovers or just ordinary Kiwi people, anyone can experience the Festival extravaganza. Tickets are available at www.tematatini.co.nz.

“We can’t wait to experience the amazing performances, Southern Hospitality as well as the delicious kai that will be on offer throughout the venue,” Te Matatini Executive Director Darrin Apanui says.

Kōkiri catches up with a tutor of a Tairāwhiti tribal group to profile their build-up to the national competition, and how they plan to make their mark at the Festival.

We also speak with a Kōhanga reo teacher who is set to make history at the Festival if she is selected in the final team. We also talk to her about her time over four amazing decades of performing.

Te Puni Kōkiri is a key supporter of Te Matatini in line with our key kaupapa to strengthen Māori Cultural Wealth.

Whilst placing first is an achievement in itself, Wayne believes that kapa haka is much more than performing on a stage. He considers haka as a practical way to prepare our people for real life.

“Whether being on stage at Tamararo or Te Matatini, what we learn is useless if we’re unable to transfer that knowledge and experience to support kaupapa that we’re involved with, whether at the marae or elsewhere. That’s what we practice for.”

For this kapa, like most groups, it is all about people. In a campaign build up the support of whānau and the community is essential. This is no different for Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti ki Uawa. They have a committee made up of people who do what needs to be done.

“We have a range of people who contribute to the group, whether it’s at the front teaching, or at the back, organising, cooking, even criticising – we all play a role,” he says.

The vast majority of those in the kapa are whānau and are either resident in Uawa or Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne). Members’ ages range between 17 and 54 years and according to the kapa haka stalwart, age has nothing to do with ability.

“There are certainly some who are more experienced within this group. There are those who were born into or were involved with haka before they were born. Not a lot, one or two certainly are new, but most of them have been performing all their lives, whether in a kapa, at a marae, or other.”

Dr Ngata is one of several kaiako of the group working collectively to prepare the team to perform at the Festival, but it’s a role not without its challenges.

“Our tipuna Hauiti in his time encountered numerous challenges, particularly with his older brothers, and at various times we experience this relationship with our kin. Our people are used to this and respond accordingly,” he laughs.

Overall, he says the group is building well towards the national Festival. “Some preparing ‘really well’ and others are still ‘catching up’,” he jokes. But in general, the group has a real sense that performing at Te Matatini is at a different level altogether.

So when asked what the kapa from the hearty East Coast settlement would bring to the 2015 Festival he answers with a childlike grin.

“Hauiti was a pōtiki, and so there’s a thing called ‘pōtiki-itis’. What are pōtiki like? Well sometimes you can be cheeky, sometimes you defy convention, and sometimes you are spoilt. Whatever it is, we as Hauiti will do things as we think Hauiti may have done”.