It takes nine hours for some Muriwhenua performers to get to their haka practices in the Far North. But this is not the biggest challenge facing their performers, the main challenge is being able to maintain their language and dialect of Muriwhenua.
Performer, Ikanui Kingi-Waiaua says, “I need to ask the question, what is the state of our language and our style of performance? I can tell you now that it's alive and it's still kicking, and is underpinned by the belief and need to show our children and our grandchildren that it's awesome to be Māori, to be someone from this region.
For our whānau who live outside the region and come home with their different style of language, as the saying goes, "Do as the Romans do." So that's what it is like. I remember Sir Kingi Matutaera Ihaka. He was like that. That's some of the things I've seen in the years gone by.”
Another performer of the group, Tia Waitai-Henare says, “Sometimes I get confused by some of the words and the dialect because I live outside of the region. But when I do return home for haka, I can understand it again.
Kingi-Waiaua says, “It's about staying true to our Muriwhenua heritage and to why Muriwhenua (ancestor) let her descendants like Tamateapōkaiwhenua head to the more southern, greater Wellington regions.
It's an honour to be able to showcase our firm belief to the world that this is the centre of the universe, Muriwhenua, the far north.”
Waitai-Henare says, “We, as Muriwhenua, need to stay true to our language and dialect no matter what, no matter the judges' results.
If we continue to stay true to our language and dialect and the way we pronounce words, in the end that's all that matters, we are winners in the eyes of our whānau.”
Kingi-Waiaua says, “For the coming year and the next five to 10 years, it's about growing the group and teaching them more about who we are, our language, our dialect, but for it to be an easy and natural thing to do so that it's not a challenge, but to grow the group in the belief that is the way forward for us.”