Kapa haka roopu prepare for regionals
Kapa haka groups around New Zealand are preparing for regional festivals this year in the lead-up to next year’s Te Anga Pāua o Aotearoa National Kapa Haka Festival. Run by the IDEA Services arm of IHC, the festival is for people with intellectual disabilities.
The inaugural festival was held at the Claudelands Arena in Hamilton in December 2018. It featured about 300 performers from 15 roopu (groups) around New Zealand. Each roopu had a 20-minute set featuring waiata and kapa haka from their hometown.
The second festival will be hosted by IDEA Services’ Central Region in 2020. The focus for all the roopu this year is preparing for the three regional festivals. These are in the Northern Region, Te hoenga waka; Central Region, Te ngākataki o ngā kāhui maunga; and Southern Region, Ngā tangata Manawa o te tai-tonga.
Participating in kapa haka
Taki Peeke is the organiser of Te Anga Pāua o Aotearoa National Kapa Haka Festival. Taki is also the IDEA Services Kaitakawaenga (Senior Māori Advisor), which involves supporting the organisation’s Māori strategy, and providing cultural training to all the staff at IDEA Services, 20 percent of whose clients are Māori.
Taki says Te Anga Pāua o Aotearoa National Kapa Haka Festival, which he stresses is not a competition, enables IDEA Services’ clients to participate in kapa haka.
“People we support see kapa haka everywhere. Māori Television is saturated with kapa haka, showing every kapa haka regional and national event across New Zealand and Australia.
“The big question I get from people using our services is ‘When will I get an opportunity to see myself on television too? And can I perform at Te Matatini?’
“Apart from the benefits to people with disabilities performing onstage, the biggest impact from last year’s festival was that our communities could see that all people have dreams, aspirations and passion. It doesn’t matter about disability and this event educates the wider community.”
Pretigious national kapa haka festival
Taki would like to see these groups perform in Te Matatini, the prestigious national kapa haka festival.
“Our biggest goal is about inclusion,” he says. “Te Matatini is the biggest event on the Māori calendar and our people aspire to see themselves on stage like their brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, parents and friends. Our goal is to see kapa haka groups of disabled and non-disabled people entered in their local senior Te Matatini regionals.”
However, Taki says, Te Matatini has specific rules that all teams must adhere to. “We don’t want to see groups set up to fail. Each senior regional has between 1500 and 5000 people attending to watch, which can be daunting for anyone. The stage and lighting can have adverse effect on some people.”
Inaugural Te Anga Pāua o Aotearoa National Kapa Haka Festival
Last year’s inaugural Te Anga Pāua o Aotearoa National Kapa Haka Festival got under way in early 2017 with regionals. Each group had to perform a minimum of four items: waiata tira (choral), waiata a ringa (action song), poi and haka. At the national festival, roopu also had to perform a traditional chant or mōteatea.
At this year’s regionals, all groups will also include a whakaeke (entry item) and whakawaatea (exit item). “Hopefully, this will give groups a full bracket they can perform at their local Te Matatini regionals.”
Each region is supported by Te Anga Pāua (IDEA Services’ national Māori board) and the three regional Māori boards to host the regionals. This year’s regionals will also invite other disability support providers to participate as a lead-up to the 2020 Te Anga Pāua National Kapa Festival.