20 June 2016
Over 500 Kaumātua (elders) from around Aotearoa will be taking to the stage this weekend, performing tribal waiata and haka in the biggest Kaumātua Kapa Haka yet.
The annual two-day hui has 13 teams performing, and will be held at Te Papa on Saturday 25 June and Sunday 26 June. Participants will come from as far afield as Tokomaru Bay, Auckland, Whakatane, Patea and Christchurch.
Te Papa’s Kaihautū (Māori co-leader) Dr Arapata Hakiwai says Kaumātua Kapa Haka numbers are growing year on year.
“The joy and vibrancy of this event attracts more and more participants each year. Last year we had 450 people on stage, this year we’ve well over 500,” said Dr Hakiwai.
“Kaumātua Kapa Haka gives our elders a chance to share their experience, knowledge and love of kapa haka with other generations.
“The performers provide a living link between 20th century composers such as Tuini Ngawai and Ngoi Pewhairangi, and today’s generation.”
Puti Mackey, spokesperson for the He Kura Te Tangata charity’s trustees who organise the annual event, says there is nothing else like it in the country.
“Kaumātua kapa haka is all about the participants. They come to perform, to enjoy each other’s company, and to keep our history alive. There’s really nothing else like it nationally,” Mrs Mackey said.
Whakatane iwi Ngāti Awa are first time participants this year.
Te Arani Barrett, a member of the team, says their kapa haka group was formed specially for the event.
“Waiata has always been an enjoyable way of sustaining identity and we wanted a way of bringing our Ngāti Awa elders together.
“Our numbers have grown rapidly to over 100 participants since we started in March, and we’ll have 60 people on stage.”
“We’ve been holding practices at a different marae each week to encourage a Ngāti Awa wide focus. It’s become a social and cultural kaupapa of unexpected proportions,” Ms Barrett says.
Dr Hakiwai says Kaumātua Kapa Haka caps off a highly successful month-long Matariki Festival for Te Papa.
“We’re finishing on a high note after bumper audiences at this year’s festival. Matariki’s popularity keeps growing and the Kaumātua Kapa Haka has become an iconic national event that’s a must see,” Dr Hakiwai said.
Kaumātua Kapa Haka is supported by Te Tumu Paeroa, Te Puni Kōkiri, and Te Māngai Pāho.
Jenny Bridgen, Te Papa, 029 601 0010
Background on Kaumātua Kapa Haka
Kaumātua Kapa Haka participant numbers over the years:
National trust He Kura Te Tangata initiated Kaumātua Kapa Haka 11 years ago to maintain and celebrate the resurgence of Māori performing arts pre-1970. Te Papa has hosted the event for the last nine years.
The event provides opportunities for senior arts performers and enthusiasts to learn and perform Māori composition from pre-1970 in a non-competitive environment. Performers take care to use the original words and music of their chosen composers.