Waitaha at Te Matatini 2017
The newly founded Waitaha kapa haka team Te Poutūmārō, competed at their first Te Matatini festival in Hawkes Bay Sports Park, in Hastings on February 22-26.
Te Poutūmārō competed alongside three other teams representing the South Island and all gave their best performance over the four-day event.
Along with the three other Waitaha groups, Ngā Manu a Tane, Te Ahikōmau a Hamoterangi, and Te Pao a Tahu, Te Poutūmārō experienced a wide mix of experiences in their journey to the festival.
Te Poutūmārō representative Tom Alesana said “it was a huge task getting there.”
“We only formed our group last year and trying to get our people from all across the South Island together was a massive challenge,” he said.
The other teams had their own challenges. Ngā Manu a Tane for instance, although accustomed to taking part at Te Matatini after attending four previous festivals, still found the fundraising process hectic.
Their representative Hōhepa Waitoa said that the team is used to the stress and chaos of Te Matatini and like the other Waitaha teams, they powered through their practices in the lead up to the festival and performed well on stage.
“It was a little surreal to be a part of such an important event and we used that to power our performance. We acted on the energy and the feeling of performing at Te Matatini to push ourselves more,” Hōhepa said.
Tom Alesana of Te Poutūmārō agreed, saying that his own team took the opportunity to use Te Matatini to further the group’s experience in kapa haka performance.
“We all totally enjoyed it and cannot wait for the next one. This has helped us to grow and progress not only ourselves and our team but the art form itself. Kapa haka, brings people together.”
That experience of whanaungatanga was felt by all the Waitaha teams, who felt one of the festival’s most valuable aspects were the overwhelming messages of the whānau and whanaungatanga. They all expressed their love for kapa haka and the impact it has on whānau.
In the words of Te Pao a Tahu representative Henere Te Aika:
“It’s not so much a hobby, but a life style. You can make so many connections so many friends and you can even find a partner. That’s what kapa haka is all about – whanaungatanga.”