Kapa haka is being hailed as the new vehicle to help meet cultural outcomes across government departments, which otherwise undervalue the benefits of the Māori performing arts.
The report released today says although most Māori are aware of the numerous benefits kapa haka has to offer New Zealand, non-Māori and government departments in particular still lack understanding.
The haka has been made famous by the All Blacks, it's even been used as a bridge to form trade relations with international markets. However, most New Zealanders still remain ignorant to the value kapa haka has to offer our country.
According to Herewini Parata, Te Matatini's Chairman, “We have performing arts such as ballet, the symphony orchestra, but you can see those around the world, kapa haka though is unique to us here in New Zealand.”
Three major areas were looked into by the research, including cultural and social benefits.
An example of such benefits can be seen in prisons where it's proven that knowledge of where a person comes from allows them to stand strong and confident in their world. Not to mention the health benefits are clear when you look on stage.
“Physical fitness, well-being of the mind, the survival of the language, family well-being, all of those were identified in this research,” says Parata.
Dr Jillian Tipene says, “What's important is that at the heart of this is a person's attitude. When someone can clearly articulate their identity it creates better well-being, life force, and spirit.”
The third area looked into was the economic benefits, sparking the question around kapa haka as a business. It's an avenue which some are already following and despite its challenges there are benefits to be had.
Parata says, “Money is a big part of all major undertakings, no matter what that may be. You need money to get things off the ground. So we need to look at those business opportunities to bring about our hopes and aspirations for kapa haka.”
Both Te Matatini and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage have put it to government departments to take up the challenge.
So the call has been made, now it's a waiting game to see who will take centre stage.