A novice haka group from Aquinas College took to the stage at Te Maeva Nui before their biggest audience outside of their Tauranga classroom.
The youth have been practicing all year to perform at the Cook Islands' most important celebrations, and they’re pleased with their performance.
“Everyone went all out and tried really hard so I thought that was really good,” says one young performer.
“We’re a family and I think we did really well and I think it just bought us closer together, this whole trip has,” says another.
32 kapa haka and reo Māori students from the mainstream Catholic special character college have joined this year’s Te Maeva Nui celebrations for the first time.
Reo Māori kaiako Michelle Marston (Ngāi Tahu) says the trip is an opportunity for the students to discover their whakapapa and reo links to Rarotonga.
“It’s just the beginning for them,” she says, “I’m hoping they’ll take it back and be like 'I can be Māori and I can be proud'.”
The youth have also been undertaking acts of service at St Joseph’s School in Avarua, such as painting the school's veranda.
Marston hopes the College can return to Te Maeva Nui Celebrations every two years.