Everyone is a winner at this kapa haka festival

Seven South Island kapa haka teams were in training form onths, polishing their moves and their voices to perform at the Aurora Centre in Christchurch yesterday (Tuesday 26 September).

There weren’t any winners or losers at the Ngā Tāngata Manawa o te Tai-tonga Kapa Haka Festival because everyone was a winner.

For the performers, kiritaki supported by IHC and IDEA Services, this is a chance to connect and celebrate Te Ao Māori – the Māori world.

Teams came from Canterbury, South Canterbury, Southland, Otago, Nelson and Marlborough, and one from another provider Te Roopu Tuhono (Christchurch).

This was the first of four regional kapa haka festivals being held throughout the country until November and IDEA Services Kaitakawaenga Taki Peeke says the events are part of the build-up to a national kapa festival next year. Next up is an event in Hamilton on 11 October, followed by Takapuna, Auckland, on 26 October and Whanganui on 7 November.

Taki says the events are the means to carry the aspirations of Māori with intellectual disabilities to be included in their culture.

Georgie Meadows, Chair of the IDEA Services Southern Regional Māori Advisory Group, says while the Christchurch event will be a huge life experience for those participating, “it’s not just getting together and singing songs”. It is part of the organisation’s Māori strategy to provide bi-cultural training for staff and upskilling for everyone in basic te reo Māori pronunciation and basic tikanga.

“Upskilling the staff at the same time is what enables the kiritaki to keep on learning,” she says.

The Christchurch hosts, the Otautahi roopu, were first onto the stage at the Aurora Centre and local organiser Renee Davis, a Service Manager for IDEA Services, has been hard at work to make it happen.

Renee says they established their kapa haka roopu in May and have been rehearsing every week to perfect their karakia and waiata – the traditional sets of whakaeke (entrance), waiata tawhito (traditional chant), poi (song with poi), waiata ā-ringa (action song), haka and whakawātea (exit) for the festival.

“The excitement and passion from our kiritaki when they perform is just exciting to watch.”

Click here to view the Kapa haka gallery.

Caption: Maddie Bruno and background John Curry from Whakatu (Nelson)

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