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Kapa Haka Performers In Te Tai Tokerau Like Superheroes To Rangatahi

On the eve of the Te Tai Tokerau kapa haka regionals in Whangarei, organizers say they want to instill a love of kapa haka to the tamariki who look up to their favourte performers as superheroes.

“Tamariki are really important to the resurgence and revival of kapa haka,” says Blake Ihimaera, chairperson for the Waitangi Cultural Committee.

“Our performers have become like superheroes to our rangatahi (youth) who absolutely love kapa haka. We want to foster that drive and talent and become role models for them through our storytelling, and our performances.”

Seventeen teams from the Northland area of Te Tai Tokerau will perform at the regionals tomorrow to vie for a spot at the Te Matatini National Festival, to be held in Ngāmotu/New Plymouth in 2025.

After the event, five teams from the region will qualify, which is the most teams the region will send to Te Matatini, showing the passion and love whānau have for kapa haka in Te Tai Tokerau.

Te Matatini Te Tai Tokerau delegate, Thomas Strickland, says the growth is due to new teams, and performers and whānau groups returning to the stage to support the kaupapa.

“We’ve had Te Matatini for the last fifty years, and the support our whānau have shown for kapa haka in Te Tai Tokerau shows that we have a wonderful future ahead,” he says.

Blake says a visual highlight at this year’s regionals is a traditional waka taua, carved by revered craftsman, the late Sir Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby, which will be proudly placed in front of the stage. Named Te Aukaha and belonging to Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa, the waka is housed at Te Nohonga near Whangaroa Harbour, reminding whānau to be strong.

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“The waka is a remarkable symbol of craftsmanship and cultural significance. This waka travelled to Whangarei to be at the regionals.”

She says that the waka represents the visual differences that Te Tai Tokerau can bring to its regionals and acknowledges the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“It’s a reminder of the ancestral voyages that brought Māori to Aotearoa, the significance of waka taua in the Far North and the embodiment of the tradition that defines kapa haka,” she says.

Te Tai Tokerau ‘Maranga Mai e te Iwi’ Senior Kapa Haka Regionals will be held at McKay Stadium in Whangarei on Saturday 23rd March 2024.

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