Topics: Kapa Haka, Te Matatini

Te Iti Kahurangi focus on youth this Te Matatini - Feature

By Taroi Black
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

With only three days to go before Te Matatini 2015 kicks off in Christchurch, Te Kāea profiles a team touted as a favourite going into the competition, Waikato-based group Te Iti Kahurangi.  This year they are focussing on youth. 

Taroi Black sits down with members of the team to find out where the crew is at in their preparations for Te Matatini.

"My haka group is Te Iti Kahurangi.  We only started with 12 performers and stood for the first time in Gisborne.  Then we decided to expand our club," explains tutor and male leader, Kingi Kiriona.

Female leader, Tiare Teinakore, says, "We are based here in Waikato-Tainui at Rukumoana Marae under Ngāti Haua.  Why am I passionate about kapa haka?  Because of my language and my family."

Senior performer Meihana Te Huia says, "We focus on Māori issues.  We also focus on youth and their interests."

According to Pere Wihongi, "The youth brought up in the kapa haka world have studied and observed the differences between various teams."

"You can really see the hunger and passion for kapa haka.  That's why we do it," tells Tuhoe Tamaiparea.

Kiriona says, "Te Kauhanganui is a house of oratory and knowledge.  Te Iti Kahurangi performers must understand the place they train in.  They must also know the background of the Tumuakitanga, which is a big deal in Ngāti Haua."

"This house is for everyone.  The Kīngitanga is for everyone.  That's why we represent and compose songs about them," reveals Teinakore.

New member Courtney Bennett says, "I'm not Māori but I am Pākehā and I've being doing kapa haka since I was 5 years old.  I saw Layla's solo choral performance on You Tube like everyone else, and I fell in love with Te Iti Kahurangi.  When I first came here I didn't know how to speak Māori at all, and you have to learn pretty fast.  Most of it is taught in Māori and they'll growl you too."

Kiriona tells Te Kāea that, "We use props as a tool to better illustrate our items so people can fully appreciate their meaning."

Teinakore says, "This generation, who have grown up watching and attending haka events since they were young children, they have been brought up in it.  Now they are the ones who are taking up the challenge."