Record-best kapa haka festival

It was a fun day out for local kapa haka enthusiasts last week, with nearly 450 local kids taking part. Photo – Michael Jeans.

Organisers of the hugely successful Cambridge Combined Schools Kapa Haka Festival say it’s “clear” kapa haka is becoming an increasingly popular extra-curricular activity for local students based on the huge number of children taking part in last week’s event.

This year’s event was the biggest yet with nearly 450 students taking to the stage throughout the day on Friday last week, using a new format to accommodate the growing numbers by staggering performances throughout the day.

Cambridge High students put on a passionate display at the festival on Friday. Photo – Michael Jeans.

“The performances were all of a high calibre and a clearly indicated the mahi that the students and their tutors and teachers have been putting in to learning their waiata and haka,” said Marcel Kuijpers, Assistant Principal at Cambridge High School and one of the main organisers of the event.

“One highlight was seeing the growth at Cambridge Middle School, which is testament to the focus and energy the local primary schools in our rohe having been putting into Te Ao Maaori over the last few years.”

A group of 55 students represented Cambridge East School, one of nine schools taking part. Photo – Sophie Iremonger.

It was the fifth time the event has been held since it started in the town hall in 2014. This year the event moved to the Don Rowlands Centre to accommodate for the nine schools taking part, run by a group of Cambridge High School’s senior students.

Year 13 student BJ Tupaea said it was great to see families turn out and show their support and thought the students had done an “awesome” job performing. “It’s just good to see young people getting up there and giving it a go,” he said.

Cambridge High School’s Te Hunga Taikaakaa (Maaori Leadership Group) ran the event on the day. Pictured is BJ Tupaea and Taasha Connon. Photo – Sophie Iremonger.

“It embraces Maaori culture and I think that’s our main objective,” added fellow student organiser, Taasha Connon. “We’re not looking for perfection, we want them to give it a go.

“They just give so much and that’s what we want to see.”

Marcel wished to give special thanks to Ngaati Koroki Kahukura for their support, “not only at the poowhiri but also with regards to the venue which proved to be a great environment for the festival that is only going to get bigger in subsequent years,” he said.

The boys from Cambridge East School demonstrated a brilliant haka. Photo – Sophie Iremonger.

“The prizes supplied by Waikato Tainui were also much appreciated, especially by those students who received them for their superb performances.

“I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Te Hunga Taikaakaa (CHS Maaori Leadership Group) for not only their efforts in organising the event but also the manaakitanga they showed for all of the participating schools on the day.”

Hundreds of people filled the Sir Don Rowlands Centre throughout the day as schools rotated their performances. Photo – Michael Jeans.

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