(Source | BY SAM BOLITHO) For Kodie Heremia the haka is part of Maori identity.
He practises it every week with his Maori dance group Te Hononga O Nga Iwi, based in Cranbourne.
It is one of just a few kapa haka (Maori performing arts) groups in Melbourne’s south-east.
Heremia has lived in Australia four years and said it can be difficult for Maori born and raised in Australia to learn about their culture.
“By doing this we keep our culture alive.”
Each Friday men and women – including Australians, New Zealanders and Cook Islanders – come to practise haka and poi routines and learn the Maori language.
Heremia said most people attending his sessions were learning the haka for the first time.
“This is a way to educate them about our culture and to help give them an identity.
“It is a way for us to hold on to our customs and the traditions.”
He said the response from participants had been good.
“My No.1 goal is to get everyone in the buzz so they’re hungry and a lot of them have that hunger.”
The group has about 30 members but is on the lookout for more.
Te Hononga O Nga Iwi will perform at the Globe to Globe World Music Festival, Namatjira Park, in Springs Road, Clayton South, this Saturday. Those wanting to join the group should call 0416201203.