Kapa haka grows in South Island region

Kapa haka teams in Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui - the top of the South Island - are going from strength to strength as they prepare for next weekend’s regional competitions.

Te Matatini Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui delegate Tom Alesana said the number of competitive kapa haka teams has doubled in primary school, secondary school, and senior groups in the region.

He attributed the growth to the local governing committee’s focus on developing and nurturing kaupapa Māori initiatives.

“The establishment of kura kaupapa Māori, the higher number of tamariki in Māori medium education, and iwi reo revitalisation have been a large driver of this development,” Alesana said.

Six senior rōpū from the district will compete on February 24 in Nelson, including Kia Ngāwari, who will celebrate 50 years, and a brand new group, Te Kuru Marutea, who will be making their competition debut.

The regional competitions are a significant precursor to the Te Matatini kapa haka competitions with regional groups competing to vie for a spot at the national biannual event.

“In 2018, Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui Māori Cultural Council undertook a robust internal review that resulted in a new strategic direction and this is evident in the increase of participation numbers in kapa haka, both competitively and non-competitively,” Alesana said.

Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui hosted Te Mana Kuratahi in 2023, the national kapa haka competition for primary school students, and later this year, the region also will host Ngā Kapa Haka Kura Tuarua, the national competition for secondary school students.

Alesana said organising a cultural event like the upcoming senior regional competitions will help to prepare for Ngā Kapa Haka Kura Tuarua.

“It has been an opportunity for our kapa haka community to work on event effectiveness, grow local viewership, and provide an exciting atmosphere for our tamariki mokopuna to be part of.”

Te Tauihu o Te Waka a Māui senior regional competitions will be held at the Trafalgar Centre in Nelson on February 24.

Next year’s Te Matatini nationals will be held in Ngāmotu/New Plymouth, Taranaki, in February.