Ngāi Tahu whānau return to the stage for Te Atakura

Ngāi Tahu whānau from around the South Island will perform at Te Atakura, the annual non-competitive Ngāi Tahu kapa haka festival, this Saturday in Christchurch.

Chair of Te Atakura, Maani Stirling, says the festival gives whānau the opportunity to come together as a hapū and learn and perform kapa haka in a supportive environment.

“Te Atakura is about confidence building, so whānau can proudly stand and perform waiata and haka. It may not be at a Matatini level, but it’s simply so they can get up and support our pae.”

The festival is supported by the Ngāi Tahu Fund – a fund that supports projects that are committed to the growth of Ngāi Tahutanga. The long-term goal of Te Atakura is to replenish all papatipu marae with waiata and haka.

“Before 2007 if you asked a bunch of people to simply get up and do a waiata off the cuff, at that point you would’ve got half a dozen, maybe a dozen, and it would’ve been those of us who have been doing this for a very long time,” says Maani Stirling. “Everyone else would’ve stayed seated.

“Over the years at Te Atakura we have had the scenario where a hapū hasn’t turned up to perform and we have just put out the call for people to come up and perform a few anthems and we have managed to fill the stage. This shows the confidence levels and people’s willingness to get up and give it a go has vastly improved.”

Te Atakura is helping to build the skill base of Ngāi Tahu kaihaka, so that they can move into the competitive space on the national kapa haka stage ahead of Te Matatini 2015 in Christchurch.

“The festival introduces all ages to kapa haka, we see taua, pōua, uncle, aunty, mum, dad, tamariki and mokopuna all standing side by side pretty much doing the same thing,” says Maani Stirling. “If we can keep developing on that we are going to get an iwi that can stand proudly on any paepae and uphold the mana of the iwi.”