Kapa haka group takes on national challenge
The group of teenagers is rowdy, but when Pa Chris Selwyn speaks, they listen.
Whether it’s cool to admit it or not, they all wanted to be in Western Springs College’s marae during their holidays.
The group were rehearsing for their performance at Kapa Haka Kura Tuaruaathe National Secondary Schools Maori Performing Arts Competition in Wellington.
It is the first time since the Maori Immersion Unit Nga Puna O Waiorea Rumaki began 18 years ago at the college that the group has made the cut.
Pa Selwyn says the standard at the competition will be very high.
“They know they’ve got to do a damned good job.”
They will compete in June against more than 40 other schools from around the country.
They will be joined by five other Auckland schools, Nga Tapuwae, Piripono, Auckland Girls Grammar, James Cook High School and Hoani Waititi.
The group of 40 will perform a choral item, a chant, an action song, a poi, a haka and a choreographed entrance and exit.
They have been chosen out of the 75-strong rumaki to represent the school.
One of the group’s leaders, student Samantha Lamsam, says they were selected on what they each brought to the stage individually.
Those 40 camped out on the marae for intensive training.
Pa Selwyn says it is a huge achievement for them to get to nationals.
But he says it has been a long-term goal of the school ever since the rumaki unit was established.
“All of the whanau are on board.
“They all made the commitment, whether their kid was in the performance or not.”
It is the commitment from whanau that has made the rumaki unit at Western Springs so successful.
Last year 85 percent of students achieved their level 1 NCEA, 87 percent achieved level 2 and 90 percent achieved level 3.
Board of Trustees rumaki representative Tracey Watkinson says they are quiet achievers but the results speak for themselves.
“And for us to get to this competition is huge, for the school and the community.
“We’re quite proud of that.”
They are first up on the stage when they get to Wellington in six weeks time, which makes them “a bit nervous” but it will also be a blessing, says Samantha.
“At least we’ll get it out of the way early.”
Right now, their main problem is not talent, but funds – $38,000 to be precise.
Ms Watkinson says almost all of the funding has to come from families and the community.
She says even though Western Springs College is a decile eight school, “this unit is not decile eight at all”.
“We’re hoping that the school community will support what this is about,” Ms Watkinson says.
She hopes an art auction this weekend will raise the bulk of the funds.
The school has received donations of artworks from several local artists.
The art auction will preview tomorrow at the school and the auction will be held on Sunday.
Bring it on: Western Springs College students rehearse for the national kapa haka championships, from back left: Margaret Clarke, 17, Norbryn Varula, 15, Samantha Lamsam, 17. Front: Danny Watkinson, 15, Weihana Henry, 13, and Taniora Motutere, 13.