National | Haka

Bid to bring the world haka record home from France

  • An estimated 10,000–15,000 are expected to perform the haka at Eden Park in September in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record.
  • The current record is held by a French group who in 2014 got 4028 people to take part.
  • The world-breaking haka attempt will also raise funds for Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust.

The operators behind New Zealand’s only music therapy centres are planning what is anticipated to be the biggest haka ever, at Eden Park in September.

Despite multiple attempts by Kiwis to bring the world record back to its homeland, the official world record has been held by France since 2014 when 4028 people took part.

Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust will attempt to remedy this on September 29 with an estimated 10,000–15,000 to perform the haka on the grounds that helped to drive it to global infamy.

The attempt will be adjudicated through Guinness World Records.

“The haka is an iconic symbol of Aotearoa that is undeniably ours,” Dame Hinewehi Mohi, Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust co-founder said.

The most recent attempt to “bring the record home” was staged in Rotorua in 2017, but due to administrative delays, the attempt was not officially verified by Guinness World Records.

“The growth and interest in haka shows the collective efforts for the reclamation and revitalisation of our unique heritage. It also reflects the partnership between Māori and Pākehā, in expressing cultural pride and nationhood,” Mohi said.

“Just as music therapy allows our clients to express themselves, the haka is a way of expressing a range of emotions, in an unequivocal display of aroha and kotahitanga/unity.”

Mohi co-founded the trust in 2004 naming it after her daughter Hineraukatauri who was born with severe cerebral palsy and received music therapy for the first time while on a family trip to London in 1999.

During these sessions, Hineraukatauri was able to engage and communicate in ways not previously thought possible, making her family determined to bring the benefits of music therapy home to Aotearoa.

Mohi said the world-breaking haka attempt would be about bringing the nation together in an effort to raise funds for the trust.

“On [September 29] we will stage a spectacle, to bring our nation together, to set the record straight, and raise funds for the Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust to continue to transform lives through music,” Mohi said.

With an increase in the cost of living, and a decrease in funding, the trust says it is facing a reduction of services, and is hoping its biggest fundraiser yet, will help the organisation continue to provide accessible music therapy services.

“One of Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust’s fundamental values is we never want finances to be a barrier to accessing music therapy,” Rachel Farrell, the trusts’ general manager said.

“With that in mind, we subsidise every therapy session we provide, despite receiving no direct government funding. The remaining costs of delivering music therapy must be raised through grant applications, fundraisers, donations, and our monthly giving program.”

The trusts’ team of registered music therapists deliver services to approximately 1,000 clients per week, ranging in age from infants to those in their 90s.

These clients have a range of needs, including cerebral palsy, autism spectrum, developmental disabilities, genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, acquired brain injuries, mental health challenges, dementia, and complex trauma.

More information on how to register to take part in the official Guinness World Record attempt will be announced in the coming months. Information can be found on the Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust website.

- Stuff