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Kapa haka enthusiasts share expertise at national event

National Symposium – Ngā Mana Whakairo a Toi – Celebrating Haka Excellence
Rotorua Convention Centre, 5 November 2012

Hundreds of kapa haka enthusiasts share expertise at national event

Aotearoa’s leading kapa haka icons are being brought together in a major national forum on Māori performing arts in Rotorua next week.

The one-day symposium Ngā Mana Whakairo a Toi – Celebrating Haka Excellence is being held on Monday, November 5, at the Rotorua Convention Centre and is expected to attract 600 people.

The symposium is being organised by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university in association with Te Matatini Society, the national body for Māori Performing Arts.

Organisers say it is the first national event of this scale and hope it will become an annual event. The aim is to facilitate a forum to discuss kapa haka issues in an academic arena and allow performing arts enthusiasts to learn first-hand from leading artists.

A line-up of Aotearoa’s foremost performing arts experts will speak and present a series of workshops and panel sessions. They include Te Matatini chair Herewini Parata; Tauira Takurua, tutor for Te Hokowhitu a Tu between 2005 and 2011; Ngāti Porou kapa haka expert and Te Matatini judge Kuini Reedy; Te Waka Huia tutors Tapeta and Annette Wehi; Te Matatini haka judge Joe Harawira, of Ngāti Awa; and songstress and kapa haka exponent Maisey Rika. Breakout workshops will include The Art of Composition, Poi and Taonga Puoro (traditional Māori instruments).

The impetus for the symposium sprang from Awanuiārangi’s Bachelor of Māori Performing Arts (BMPA), which was launched three years ago and has 715 students enrolled from Kaitaia to Christchurch. BMPA students come from 35 kapa haka, the majority of which are Te Matatini teams. Bringing together skilled and knowledgable artists from Aotearoa’s vast network of Māori performing arts would benefit all attendees, organisers said.

The chief executive officer and Vice-Chancellor of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi: indigenous-university, Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith, said the struggle to maintain iwi culture was necessarily a collaborative endeavour.

“The symposium is an opportunity to share where we are up to in our various efforts to sustain our living culture,” Distinguished Professor Smith said.

“This celebration of Mātauranga Māori excellence within the performing and literary arts is significant in the context of the total ‘Kaupapa Māori’ self-development revolution begun in the 1980s. Kapa haka shares the same philosophy as other educational and cultural revitalisation initiatives in that it emphasises Māori cultural excellence. It does this by reinforcing the legitimacy of Māori and iwi knowledge, by utilising culturally preferred pedagogies, and by providing opportunities for collective and collaborative practices embedded within the cultural notion of whanaungatanga. It also embraces the practical dimensions of cultural excellence by accentuating the performativity of cultural expertise.”

A black tie dinner will cap off the day at the Convention Centre ballroom. Local artists and BMPA students will provide the entertainment, which will include Haka Theatre.

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