Hikurangi kapa haka are fine-tuning their bracket as they prepare for the upcoming Te Matatini Kapa Haka National Competition.
Returning to Te Matatini for the second time, Hikurangi Pariha is embodying the tribal saying 'He Wīwī, He Naati, He Whanokē'.
The male leader of the group, Matanuku Parata says, “That cluster of Ngāti Porou is unique, this other cluster of Ngāti Porou is also unique, and they’re combined at the base of Hikurangi Mountain and embodied on the stage. We are not the same, but we are one.”
40% of the group live outside of the tribal area. Matanuku Parata says haka is another way to bring them home.
“For the ones living away, it brings them back home to strengthen our Marae”, says Parata.
Pele Kupenga-Keefe says, "For some of them their grandparents have grown up at home, so they return to regenerate those aspects within themselves."
Lani Keelan-Goldsmith says, “The difference in the towns is apparent, we know who we are, what we're doing and where we come from.”
Hikurangi kapa haka also gives performers an opportunity to learn more about where they come from.
Lani Keelan-Goldsmith grew up on the East Coast but has been living in Wellington for ten years. “I get annoyed with having to learn songs and traditional stories from other tribes, so I come back home to learn my own”, says Keelan-Goldsmith.
The bracket will provide an insight into the unique identity of the Naati, their religious ties and provides an opportunity to farewell local stalwarts.
Matanuku Parata says, “The head of Te Hokowhitu a Tū who passed away last year, Māmā Kohi Coleman, to represent her at Te Matatini.”
Pele Kupenga Keefe says, “A well-known woman, she was consistently present when you saw Māmā Kohi you saw Te Hokowhitu a Tū,”
The group is keeping their Matatini bracket under wraps and with three weeks to go they're polishing up their movements.
“I'm hurting inside, physically, mentally, but the spirit is alive and well”, says Parata.
Hikurangi will take to the Te Matatini stage on the 21st of this month.