By TRACY NEAL – The Nelson Mail
Sixteen troupes from around Te Tau Ihu had the crowds cheering, stomping and laughing at the Whakataetae kapahaka-a-rohe te Huinga Whetu regional competition held in the Nelson College hall on Saturday.
The scene was set early by te kohanga reo performers, who had the audience playing along fervently.
“It’s choice to see that our little babies are doing this. It gives them a good foundation for life,” said Maori TV presenter, musician, singer and songwriter Te Hamua Nikora (aka THC The Haati Coastie) who was hosting the event, staged by the Maori Culture Council for the top of the South Island.
Trophies were awarded for a range of skills displayed, including poi, haka, waiata tawhito and waiata tira, uniformity, and aggregate points.
The large panel of judges included Marleina Leota, Jordan Takiwa, Carl and Donna Ross, Muriwai Ihakara, Venus Ihakara, Te Aroha Papa, and Te Waata Tamepo.
Manukura-Kaunihera Kapahaka Maori chairwoman Dayveen Stephens, from Waikato, said kapahaka in Te Tau Ihu was the predominant Maori artform, and was developing in this region.
She said there would not be a lot of Maori culture here without it.
Ms Stephens said she had watched kapahaka grow during the past nine years, largely as a result of Maori people moving to the region.
“Compared with other regions throughout New Zealand, this is a developing region. A lot are Maori who have moved from areas where kapahaka culture is strong,” she said.
The depth of experience growing here was vital for encouraging the next generation of kapahaka performers, who soon would be “right up there with the rest of the country”, Ms Stephens said.
The Maori Cultural Council fully supported the diversity of iwi in Te Tau Ihu, she said.
Results: Junior section Te Pitau Whakarei, Nelson Intermediate School, 1; Te Roopu Whakamanamana, Victory Primary School, 2; Te Pouahi tuakana, Nelson Central School, 3. Intermediate section Te Waiaro o Pikimai, Nelson College for Girls, 1; Nga Tamatane o Whakatu, Nelson College, 2; Tama Tu Tama Ora, Waimea College, 3.