It's been 41 years since the first annual kapa haka gathering for Northland Secondary Schools began. Also known as the Te Taitokerau Festival, groups were welcomed to Ōtamatea High School in the Ngāti Whātua region early this morning.
“To me the most important thing of this festival is that we show our culture here in Northland and to give effect to the authority of the Māori language,” says Lance Baker from Ngati Kahu and Ngati Hine.
The two-day festival will see 28 secondary schools from across the region take the stage.
Performer Jackie Lee Rata says, “It’s very exhilarating because it’s my first time representing my school on stage and it’s also my last.”
The festival has been non-competitive since its inception 41 years ago. This year the focus is on guardianship of the language, the land, and the people.
“Some of the students here aren't conversant in Māori so kapa haka is the vehicle where they can speak our language. And that’s the priority here is our language,” says Waimania Morgan Paikea, from Ngati Whatua.
The festival ends tomorrow in time for the school holidays.