Kapa Haka judges charged with being iwi-centric.

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Members of a kapa haka group believe they were marked down in heats for a national competition because of a judge’s aversion to a woman speaking on stage, the NZ Herald has reported.

Porou Ariki, from the Ngati Porou iwi, came seventh out of 21 teams in the Tamaki Makaurau region at the heats for the national Te Matatini competition, to be held in Gisborne.

The team’s exit item had a female perform a mihi to teams who would be representing the region in Ngati Porou’s backyard in 2011. Members claim a male judge from Ngati Whatua o Orakei made comments on the judging sheet that implied it wasn’t right that a woman speak on behalf of the group. A panel of three judges marked the exit. Two gave Porou Ariki 98 and 96 out of 100 but the other judge gave 85. The judging sheets weren’t available to the Herald yesterday.

A female member of Porou Ariki said:

Fundamentally, he does make comments around a woman speaking. The connotations are that it’s not appropriate. It was a gutless wonder type of comment. He’s being biased and utilised his iwi tikanga to judge us on the atamira [stage] which I thought had some neutrality about it.”

The source said she didn’t view the matter as sexist, rather of one iwi’s norms not being respected. Porou Ariki’s ethos is to hold on to Ngati Porou tikanga, or ways of doing things.

We’ve had women speak on the marae – that’s our norm. He’s saying our norm is wrong. If we can’t respect each other inter-iwi why should others respect us?”

Porou Ariki tutor Barry Soutar said he fully supported all the judges’ comments even though he had yet to fully read or analyse them.

Mr Soutar said the team congratulated the groups who were going through to the nationals next year, and accepted that this was the end of the line for Porou Ariki and Te Matatini 2011.

Te Matatini regional delegate Annette Wehi said she had not seen Porou Ariki’s judging remarks and so couldn’t comment on that, but she had seen raw scores. “Two out of three were very high – they’re almost getting 100 per cent. It looks like 85 was the benchmark, the lowest you can give.”

It was important, however, to remember that judges who gave their time and expertise on a voluntary basis were in the unenviable position of not being able to please everyone sometimes, she said.

A complaint from Porou Ariki about the matter had not been lodged with the executive committee. If teams did protest, the concerns would have to be dealt with quickly, Ms Wehi said. It was highly unlikely that judges’ marks would be regraded.

Kia ora to Yyonne Tahana for this aritcle.

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