Debut performance nears
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.