De­but per­for­mance nears

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - REXINE HAWES

At this year’s Te Mata­tini, New Zealand’s top kapa haka fes­ti­val, Ngaati Hauaa will make his­tory.

It will mark the first time the iwi has qual­i­fied to com­pete at the na­tional kapa haka com­pe­ti­tion. They will join four other teams from Tainui Waka.

Their tu­tor Ho­era Kereama, along with his sis­ter Tia Gil­lett and cousin Ani Rangi­hau have spent the past five months pre­par­ing for the Fe­bru­ary com­pe­ti­tion.

Prepa­ra­tion in­cludes re­search­ing ge­neal­ogy, writing scripts to sup­port per­for­mance, writing songs, putting them to mu­sic and kapa haka chorog­ra­phy for the 30-minute per­for­mance.

There are 44 peo­ple in the group, named Te Kaa­heru Mata­rau o Hauaa, aged 16 year­splus. All are whanau rep­re­sent­ing the Ngaati Hauaa rohe. Forty will per­form on stage.

‘‘Our group is whanau ori­en­tated, all cousins, aun­ties and un­cles. It’s been a a great bond­ing time. We have never known one an­other the way we do now,’’ Kereama says.

Ev­ery week­end since Septem­ber the group has come to­gether at var­i­ous marae in the area for week­end long live-ins to prac­tise. Some trav­el­ling from as far away as Auck­land.

The per­for­mance had to tell the story of the link be­tween Ngaati Hauaa and Ngati Kahun­gunu, the host iwi.

There was very lit­tle Kereama could share in his in­ter­view about the con­tent, as each group’s per- for­mance is con­fi­den­tial un­til the team takes the stage.

How­ever he did say it in­volved a lot of re­search on his part, in par­tic­u­lar about Wiremu Tami­hana, on whom their group is named for.

‘‘There was a lot of re­search, a lot of hours of read­ing. There is a lot of his­tory we have learnt, we knew he was our an­ces­tor and a Chris­tian.

‘‘Go­ing through the scripts has been a real eye opener for a lot of us and we know a lot about him now.’’

Re­search in­cluded copies of let­ters from Tami­hana to the Gov­ern­ment, pro­vided by kau­matua.

To par­tic­i­pate, the group had to raise $60,000, to­wards ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, uni­forms and travel ex­penses.

They have raised $50,000 so far. Many marae of­fered help to­wards the fundrais­ing.

Te Mata­tini is held over four days and in­cludes 46 teams, in­clud­ing one from Aus­tralia. Te Kaa­heru Mata­rau o Hauaa will be the fi­nal group to per­form, on day three.

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