Poi issue taken to the Human Rights Commission

By Mānia Clarke
  • Northland
  • South Island

The Human Rights Commission has confirmed it has received a formal complaint regarding boys not being marked in secondary schools competition when performing the poi. The commission won't confirm who has lodged the complaint.

It comes on the day when haka exponents are questioning the change in rules.

The current Te Matatini champions, Te Whānau a-Apanui, are widely known for their catchy tunes and original ideas. The use of the poi, performed by their men and women, secured them first place in this discipline several years ago.

Their male leader, Tamati Waaka, is saddened by the new changes, “To hear the decision that male groups will not be marked for the poi is perhaps a step backwards. We are burying ourselves with our own traditions.”

It's a matter of concern for kapa haka tutor, and former judge at both regional and Te Matatini competitions.

“Hato Pāora are renowned for their poi performances. Every year, they return to entertain the crowds. The idea that they may not be able to perform the poi this year is sad for them and for the supporters and crowd as well,” says Kimoro Taiepa.

Today, the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Committee posted the changes via their Facebook page, saying that single sex male groups are to be marked on te mita o te reo for the newly introduced mau rākau section, which replaces the poi item. 

Poi exponent Kahurangi Maxwell disagrees with the decision, “To me, each school should have the freedom to compete in any of the disciplines they choose, whether that's mau rākau or whichever discipline. It's been this way in past competitions."

We understand the committee are meeting today and will provide clarity on process in the next few days.