Indigenous | Te Matatini

Te Kairangi ō Poutama are the new kapa on the block

Te Kairangi ō Poutama kapa haka. Photo / Supplied / NZME

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A new haka group is hoping to revitalise tribal stories in their first competitive stand this weekend.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara, along with Te Taitokerau, are next in line to take the regional haka stage, vying for a spot at next year’s national comp.

Te Kairangi ō Poutama are the new kapa on the block, hoping to represent Te Whanganui-a-Tara at Te Matatini 2025.

Established in 2023, the group’s founder Ihaia Ropata (Ngāti Toa Rangatira) says it was born at a wānanga reo from a desire to revitalise the songs and stories of his iwi.

“We noticed minimal waiata for the iwi. There was a void regarding waiata whakangahau [song of entertainment],” he says.

“We really just wanted to create a kapa haka group for all.”

Competitive kapa haka groups are usually made up of 40 members.

Performances or “brackets” typically comprise seven different items - choral, entrance, mōteatea (lament), action song, poi, haka and exit.

The group have trained tirelessly over the past six months in preparation for their performance.

“Everyone could attest to [the fact] that they’ve all invested their time and full faith in the kaupapa that we’re taking on to the regional stage,” Ropata says.

Te Kairangi ō Poutama kapa haka. Photo / Supplied / NZME

Seven kapa will compete in Wellington this weekend, allowing two of those kapa to qualify for next year’s national competition.

Ropata says the excitement extends beyond their core group, who are a mix of novice and experienced kaihaka.

“There’s a blanket of excitement from everyone which is really cool”.

Te Kairangi ō Poutama is paving a new path, being the first competitive haka group to represent Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Their debut performance will tell the story of their iwi’s migration from Kāwhia to Porirua.

“We also pay homage and acknowledge [the] 200th anniversary of Te Pakanga o Waiorua”.

The new group hope to shed more light on different stories from their iwi.

“I think people only know Ngāti Toa as the custodians of Ka Mate,” he says.

The renowned haka Ka Mate was written by Te Rauparaha - an ancestor of Ngāti Toa Rangatira - best known across the world as the All Blacks’ pre-game haka.

“We come with so many more narratives [and] kōrero that haven’t necessarily been shared,” Ropata says.

“So we hope to use kapa haka as the main catalyst to expand on the narrative and the kōrero of Ka Mate and Te Rauparaha himself.”

Despite being newcomers, Te Kairangi ō Poutama are keen to take the national stage at Taranaki.

“We would love to have a full-circle moment to acknowledge our kinship and our hononga [connection] to Taranaki”.

Ropata also acknowledges the kapa’s elders as their driving force.

“[We’d love to] take our kaumātua back home, to take their stories back to Taranaki.

“The overall purpose of this mahi is always for our kaumātua”.

The Te Whanganui a Tara Kapa Haka Senior Regional Competition will take place at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington today.


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