Matariki kapa haka celebrates Wahine Toa

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Distinguished Kapa Haka groups Waka Huia and Waihirere held a special performance as part of The Matariki Festival, marking 125 years of women's suffrage in New Zealand at Te Taumata Kapa Haka - Wahine Toa at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland.

The groups took to the stage to celebrate the strength and power of women through kapa haka. 

Joe Pihema (Ngāti Whātua) from Te Waka Huia says, “For the whole world to see (the women), 'here I stand as a Māori woman', so that's an important role for the men within Kapa Haka is to support our women so they can stand proud and noble.

They acknowledged women who have set the standard in kapa haka over the years.

Tapeta Wehi from Waihīrere says, "The likes of Taini, Atareta, Ngoingoi, Tuini, there are many, so this is special, we should celebrate them, and other women can follow they're in their footsteps."

Waihirere from the East Coast and Te Waka Huia from Auckland stood together to recognise their shared history.

Tapeta Wehi says, “In the 80's we moved to Auckland, there Te Waka Huia was formed so there are ties between the groups as well as genealogy.”

Pihema says Kapa Haka is like a double-hulled canoe and the male's role is to support women in their role.

“The stories are there, the lessons are there, to inspire them to stand with the strength and power of women,” says Pihema.

Tapeta Wehi says the groups Waihirere and Te Waka Huia are intertwined.