Final prep for Takitimu Festival underway

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Preparations are “heading down the home straight” for the official powhiri where history will be made when over 3,000 people from Ngati Kahungunu stand as one to welcome visitors to the international event in Hawke’s Bay.The mass powhiri will be held at the new Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park on the outskirts of Hastings on September 15 to mark the opening of the five-day festival.Wananga have been held for the past three months throughout Ngati Kahungunu, from Wairoa to Wairarapa, to teach performers, marae, hapu, whanau and schools the haka, wero, waiata and karanga which will be used to welcome people to the festival.

Narelle Huata, from the Ngati Kahungunu Runanga Arts and Culture Board, is one of the organizers running the powhiri wananga in Heretaunga.

The initial wananga in May involved tutors from throughout the Kahungunu motu who came together to learn the various haka and waiata, and then returned to teach their own whanau, marae, hapu and schools.

[sws_pullquote_left]It is only the second time in history all of the people affiliated to the ancestral waka have together in one place to share their culture, music, entertainment, food and history. [/sws_pullquote_left] They will come together for two mass rehearsals planned at the regional sports park in early September to put the finishing touches on the historic powhiri, which will welcome visitors affiliated to the waka Takitimu, from around New Zealand and the Pacific.

The powhiri will simultaneously welcome groups from Ngati Kahu (Northland), Ngati Ranginui (Bay of Plenty), Ngati Porou and Te Aitanga a Mahaki (East Coast) and Ngai Tahu (South Island).

It will also welcome groups from the Pacific, including Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

“We are heading down the home straight and it’s now about pushing up the level to where the powhiri needs to be for the 15th of September,” Narelle says.

“What’s important is to encourage whanau to be involved in the powhiri. We’ve had the kupu (words) and actions to all of the waiata and haka posted on our website to make it easy for people to access and learn for all of our Takitimu descendants.

We realise Takitimu doesn’t just include Kahungunu and we have people from as far away as Australia asking for the kupu.”

A video has also been posted on the web to help people learning the actions and words to haka and waiata for the powhiri.

Manutaki, or regional co-ordinators, have been working throughout the Kahungunu iwi to help prepare people for their various duties, whether it be haka, karanga, waiata or those leading the wero and the putatara.

Anthony Tipene has been heading a team of people who will use the putatara as a special feature at the powhiri.

Pareiha Huata has been leading wananga on haka and taiaha under the guidance of JB Smith and Tuhoe Huata.

Ngati Kahungunu kapa haka leader Raina Ferris is heading the group of women in charge of the karanga.

“We’re working with these people as we head towards the first mass rehearsal. We are piecing it all together so we can start moving as one, to achieve kotahitanga, so we can stand strong,” Narelle says.

“We are encouraging whanau to participate in the powhiri so we can give the manuhiri (visitors) the best welcome possible.”

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