Topic: Kapa Haka

Reunion for members of Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato kapa haka

By Hone-Haunui Rapana
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Members of Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato kapa haka have gathered to decide whether or not to disestablish the group, while also giving gifts of acknowledgement to the leaders.

It could be the last time these voices gathered will be harmonising together.

Professor Timoti Karetu says, "Without their voices, your words would go to waste.
That's why I thank them."

2008 was the last time the group performed and Karetu thought it might be time to disestablish the group.

"The group hasn't performed for a long time but through this gathering, someone may want to start it back up again," he explains.

Tonight, they acknowledge the leaders of the group.

Paora Sharples says, "They taught, strengthened and carried us through the highs and lows, through all aspects of kapa haka.  They did it all."

"In 2000, Joe was still taking the Wednesday practises.  That's what he did for 30 years and the one thing he taught us was to the death."

Te Kahautu Maxwell adds, "They are the ridgepole, the heart and the backbone of the house of kapa haka for Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato."

Many kapa haka leaders were a product of this group.

Sharples says, "For 30 years, I have been with Te Rōpū Manutaki but I started here.  At my first national competition, I performed for Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato."

Kiriona explains, "This was my first senior group, where I experienced and felt the passion for our language and our world."

Karetu is still hopeful, even though they have gathered to put the group to rest, "Perhaps the children or grandchildren of these ones as they get older may want to start the group back up."