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Awanuiārangi backs biggest celebration of kapa haka


Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university
Friday, January 25, Whakatāne

Awanuiārangi backs world’s biggest celebration of Māori performing arts

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university is backing the world’s biggest celebration of Māori performing arts by signing a sponsorship deal for Te Matatini 2013, the national kapa haka competition in Rotorua next month.

The biennial event will see 41 kapa haka groups competing over four days, from February 21 to 24, for the title of national champion. The festival opens at the Rotorua International Stadium with a pōwhiri on February 20.

More than 550 Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi students will be either performing or gaining valuable industry experience at Te Matatini 2013. Over 400 performing arts students from Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiārangi are members of the elite groups competing in Te Matatini 2013, and 150 students from the Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi tourism programme Hei Manaaki will be gaining practical experience as they provide support during the five-day festival.

Awanuiārangi launched a hugely popular Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts (BMPA) three years ago and last year taught 715 performing arts students from Kaitaia to Christchurch. Awanuiārangi vice-chancellor and CEO, Distinguished Professor Hingangaroa Smith, said the programme is more than just a qualification – it is a celebration of mātauranga Māori (knowledge) within the realm of performance excellence and literary arts.

“In the context of the kaupapa Māori self-development revolution, the kapa haka phenomenon is an expression of educational and cultural revitalisation. It emphasises cultural excellence and reinforces the legitimacy of iwi knowledge. Māori still want to be Māori, and the interest in our Bachelor of Performing Arts shows the importance of developing outcomes related to what counts as competent cultural citizenship.”

Rob Ruha, Rotorua-based tutor and Programme Co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts, said 36 haka teams are enrolled in the three-year degree programme. Twenty of those teams are competing at Te Matatini this year – five of them for the first time. These students have been training and anticipating the four days of fierce competition for up to two years.

Mr Ruha said two of the haka teams are past champions of the competition and were in the top 3 at Te Matatini o Te Ra in 2011.

Te Matatini is best translated as the ‘many faces’, referring to not only the performers but also their supporters, and the role that kapa haka plays in sustaining Māori culture and te reo Māori. The festival is organised by Te Matatini Society, the national organisation for kapa haka and Māori performing arts.

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi collaborated with Te Matatini Society last year to run a major national forum on Māori performing arts. The one-day symposium Ngā Mana Whakairo a Toi – Celebrating Haka Excellence on November 5 in Rotorua was the first national conference of its type and organisers are working to establish it as a regular event.

During the symposium, Distinguished Professor Smith announced the establishment of the new National Institute of Māori and Indigenous Performing Arts. The institute will be led by Donna Grant, daughter of the late Sir Howard Morrison. Ms Grant was recently inaugurated as Te Tumu Ihorangi – Performing Arts, a distinguished position of leadership within Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.


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