Kapa haka festival pulls record numbers

Cambridge Primary School’s senior student performance. Photo – Michael Jeans.

The sixth annual Cambridge Combined Schools Kapa Haka Festival held at the Don Rowlands Centre on August 30 was once again a success this year, attracting another record turnout from both students and the public, with 11 schools taking part (up from nine last year) and a noticeably larger crowd.

Organised by Cambridge High School’s Māori leadership group Te Hunga Tai Kākā, the event aims to celebrate and promote Māori culture, and bring the community together.

“It’s really cool to see everyone involved, and to see how much it’s grown from being an afterschool thing,” said one of the senior student organisers, Mariana Tamaki.

Kana Tumai (centre) leads the Kaipaki School performance, with Jasgin Lopena (left) and Akeelah Buckley-Hedley (right). Photo – Michael Jeans.

The cultural showcase originally started in 2014 as an evening event inside the Cambridge Town Hall, but moved to Karapiro last year to cater to its growing number of participants.

This year saw performances from Leamington School, Cambridge Primary, Cambridge East, Kaipaki, Hautapu, Goodwood, Ngāti Hauā, St Peter’s Catholic, Cambridge Middle, St Peter’s and Cambridge High School.

Waikato Tainui supported the event again this year, sponsoring the venue and providing prizes and goodie bags to schools who demonstrated a great sense of heart and passion in their performance.

“Thanks to Waikato Tainui for being able to put this together for us,” said student organiser Logan Malcolm. “It’s been really great to see all the different schools show up and be a part of it, and their whanau too.”

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