World Krump Champ spreads smoke-free message through dance

By Aroha Mane

Born and raised in South Auckland, World Krump Champion Ken Vaega (Māori and Samoan) is on a mission to inspire youth to be Smokefree through dance. He is part of Hip Hop International New Zealand who plan to share their message through a series of workshops across the country.

On the stage he's known as Lightsaber or Street Beat, now the 25-year-old World Krump Champion is using the Krump force to motivate youth.

Vaega told Te Ao Māori news, "I am an ambassador for the Smoke-free New Zealand that's also apart of Hip Hop International New Zealand. We're holding workshops up and down the country but pretty much it's just free workshops for our community just to encourage them to be smoke-free."

For Vaega it's about connecting with tamariki which is the real reward.

“From the ages of maybe 10, literally just going for it. You just felt the energy in the room change and you felt everyone feel this high and this adrenaline rush.  Everyone just wanted to keep going. At the end of the class, I can look at say wow everyone has been impacted by what I've taught.

Krump dance grew out of Los Angeles street culture in early 2000, today Vaega is proud to be the world champ.

“It’s been super dope because there have been moments in this competition where I ask myself, whats something different that I can give to this scene. You got people from France, Russia, Europe and the states. But there is something different about NZ. I'm just glad I'm just able to go over there and represent who I am as a Pacific Islander as a Māori person. I can do that at a high level and be respected.”

Vaega's championship win was celebrated with a haka performance.

“People were talking about the haka so much afterwards, they were just inspired by it. They see a similarity between the energy that is given, the honour that is given in a haka and the same that’s in Krump.

For now, the focus for Vaega is the NZ Hip Hop Nationals in April and the worlds in Phoenix Arizona in August.