Te Matai kapa haka shines in top echelon
Just three more points and Te Matai: Te Kura a¯ Iwi o Tapuika would be representing Te Arawa at a national kapa haka competition.
The Waitangi school sent 32 of its 59 pupils to the Te Arawa Primary School Kapa Haka regional competition in Taupo¯ .
“We think we were the smallest school in the competition,” says principal Angie Wihapi.
That didn’t stop the school getting five placings and just missing out on being one of the five schools going forward to Te Mana Kuratahi, the national primary school kapa haka competition next year.
Under tutors Brennan Hohepabarrett and Raumiria Robinson Te Matai placed first in kakahu (uniform), second in te reo, second in waiata ta¯ whito and second in haka. Tewhetuki Hohepa-barrett was second in Kaita¯ taki tane (male leader) over the entire
competition. The Te Arawa competition is held every second year and this is the second time Te Matai have participated.
“All the rest of the schools are Rotorua schools and it’s quite a powerful region for kapa haka,” says Angie.
“The placings we got were placings in the disciplines that were the top end — so we were recognised among some of the best in New Zealand. That competition is one of the toughest to go to in New Zealand. But we choose to go where all the big guns are.”
Angie says going into the contest, the group set itself the goal of a place at the national competition.
“We didn’t know how we were going to go, but we did believe and when the results were coming out, we were ‘oh wow, it’s within our grasp’.”
The group also performed — although with a different routine — at the non-competitive Karanga o te Rangatahi at Pongakawa School in September.
Angie says taking part in kapa haka gives students the chance to learn about values.
“It’s also about building confidence within the tribe and the school as well because we haven’t been known to be a big kapa haka school within the Rotorua region. But now they are asking, ‘who are they? Where have they come from and how did they do that?’.”
The Te Arawa Primary School Kapa Haka Regional Competition is for children aged 8 to 12, who perform in 30-minute slots in a range of different categories including waiata, haka, and poi.
Thirteen schools performed at the event, which was held at the Taupo¯ Events Centre.
ABOVE: Te Matai Te Kura a¯ Iwi o Tapuika kapa haka group just prior to taking the stage at the Te Arawa Primary School Kapa Haka Regional Competition in Taupo¯ . LEFT: Te Matai Te Kura a¯ Iwi o Tapuika kapa haka group leaders Te Aokapurangi Hopeha-barrett and Tewhetuki Hohepa-barrett. Tewhetuki was placed second in Kaita¯ taki tane (male leader) over the entire competition.