Mass haka to welcome Matariki

By Jessica Tyson

Tāmaki Makaurau kicked off its Matariki celebrations with a mass haka over the weekend.

Hundreds gathered at the Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitākere Ranges for the dawn celebration featuring karanga, ancient karakia, waiata and haka.

The haka, written by first-time composer Tyler Rakataura Taua-Gordon, was made to celebrate the history of Te Kawerau ā Maki.

"This is the first haka written specifically for our iwi," says the 23-year-old. "I am honoured that the wero was extended to me, a rangatahi of our tribe."

Named Te Kawerau ā Maki, it was inspired by the tribe's pepeha, while also acknowledging the past with some cheeky kupu taken from an old whānau haka.

George Taua. Source: Faanati Mamea, courtesy of Auckland Council.

The old haka was first performed by Taua-Gordon’s great-grandfather in 1935 for an Australian woman who visited the country in search for a Māori husband.

Taua-Gordon’s grandfather George Taua says, “The haka was actually performed in front of the Ministry of Labour Mr J C Webb. And with the Minister of Labour he had a visitor, a young lady from Sydney Australia.”

“The haka that they performed to the young lady and the minister’s guests was not a type of haka that would be performed at a type of greeting. The haka was more of a joke.”

Tyler Rakataura Taua-Gordon leads the haka. Source: Faanati Mamea, courtesy of Auckland Council.

With the help of students from his kura, Taua-Gordon has spent the past few months teaching the new haka to primary and intermediate-aged children at seven West Auckland schools.

"It is written for those who whakapapa to our iwi and for those who acknowledge Te Kawerau ā Maki, like many of our local schools and community groups. Through this haka, we have taught more than 600 people about our tupuna, our waka, and our whenua."

Over the next three weeks, more than 100 events across Auckland will feature in the festival to celebrate Matariki, the Māori New Year.

Families arrive. Source: Faanati Mamea, courtesy of Auckland Council.