National | Kapa haka

Te Arawa champs set to impress at Mana Kuratahi haka comp

Three time regional Te Arawa primary school kapa haka champions, Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai are set to impress judges at next week’s national Mana Kuratahi competition.

Despite being the first Te Arawa group to take to the stage on day one, they're ready.

“There's not a lot of difficulties,” said year 11 senior student tutor, Rakaea Te Rangi-Trotman.

“Our juniors are quick to learn. Terrific actually. Hard to fault.”

Paying tribute to their ancestors is central to their performance. The action song is a tribute to Te Arawa traditional Māori weaponry exponent, the late Mita Mohi.

“We are supporting our elder Koro Mita,” said year 9 tutor, Hikooterangi Curtis. “Aspects that celebrate his character, his teachings when he was alive.”

Te Rangi-Trotman said, “The benefits for us is our language, maintaining our Rongomai identity, being able to represent our people of Ngāti Rongomai.”

The kura placed third in the nationals in 2013 and made the top nine in 2015. This year a record of 57 teams will perform over five days.

“Our main focus is to develop our skills,” said year 9 tutor, Ngatuire Hapi. “For us it's not about winning on stage, but giving our personal best in our performance.”

“This is demanding,” said year 12 tutor, Hera Raumati. “I am not natural teacher.”

The group will take to the stage at Gisborne's Rugby Park next Monday.