Whangaruru celebrate their 28th Kapa Haka festival

By Dean Nathan

In its 28th year, the Whangaruru Kapa Haka Festival has attracted a crowd of over 500 to celebrate local primary schools taking the stage in support of this year's theme of respect for children.

Kohatu McQueen from Te Kura o Whangaruru says, “What’s special about today for me is that all the kura come from all the motu and just have fun together and perform.”

The festival is a non-competitive event that brings together mainstreams school in the district to celebrate the Māori culture.

Portland School principal Jodi Edwards says, “It’s the people. He tangata he tangata he tangata.  We come here because of the people, to live and breathe our culture. That’s what it’s all about and my kids need to be exposed because they've been urbanized. They don’t get to experience any of this.

The festival provides an opportunity for many first time performers with a crowd over 500 in support of this year's theme to respect our kids.

Kaea Wilson from Ngāti Hine says, “I get to perform with my school knowing that heaps of people have come here to watch us perform and knowing that our whanau is here.”

Edwards says, “We're all winners aye we're all winners in the end.  That means that we can stand up and there’s not a first second or third, we're all firsts. So I think that’s what it’s all about we're coming and we're just competing and sharing who we are and where we're from.”