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Hoani Waititi Kura

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has invited Hoani Waititi Kura, Auckland’s leading Maori immersion high school and four-time winner of the annual Auckland Kapa Haka Maori cultural contest, to send its top Kapa Haka group to Shanghai next month.

Maori Affairs Minister Tau Henare today said in a personal statement to Parliament that the Orchestra had invited the group to perform on August 7 as a feature of the opening of its new orchestral season, where Mr Gary Verne, director of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, will be guest conductor.

“The invitation was conveyed to the school by Ms Chien Jo, a key figure in the Chinese community in Auckland and a leader in Auckland’s East-Meets-West cultural movement, based on the school’s track record of four wins in a row in the annual Auckland contest.

“This international recognition is a signal honour for the school, and it has been won on transparent merit in four years of open competition. Highlights of the trip would include:

 Performances for news media in Hong Kong and television in Beijing

 Participation in the launch of the Shanghai Symphony orchestra’s new season

 A performance at the opening of New Zealand Immigration Service’s new Shanghai office, a New Zealand education fair in Shanghai, and an official Chinese formal dinner.

“I am personally as proud as punch because I am a former member of the Board of Trustees. I have five children at the school, one of whom, Maraea, aged 12, along with Tuku Morgan’s daughter Riria, aged 13, is a member of group invited to China.

“Obviously, the school has no money to fund the trip. The Chinese will look after a lot of their costs there, but the schools’ principal, Mrs Beverly Manahi, asked my advice. I suggested that they apply to the Lotteries Commission.

“At the request of a whanau group of school parents, my partner Ngaire wrote the application to the Commission, supported subsequently by the Principal. I have written a personal letter of support for the application, because the Kapa Haka group and the school deserve it.

“But other than that, I have taken pains to stand aside and leave decision-making in the hands of people who have no conflict of interest or family or other involvement.

“I have been very punctilious about that, given that my daughter is a member of the group. I have advised the Cabinet and the Minister of Internal Affairs that, since my daughter is a member of the group, I want no part whatever in decision-making on it.

“Equally obviously, I don’t want the school punished just because my kids go there, nor do I want my daughter to stand down from a place she won on merit as part of their cultural team, just because she happens to be my daughter. That would be unfair.

“That’s how it should be decided, not on a basis of party politics.

“The schools’ application for $50,000 is now before the Lotteries Commission for independent decision.”


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