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Waitaha Regional Secondary Schools’ Kapa Haka Competition 2021

Amiria Tikao —

On the 14th of August, Waiataha’s Secondary Schools' Regional Kapa Haka Competition was held at Christchurch Boys' High School. Being the biggest Kapa Haka Competition for High Schools, participating as a kaihaka (performer) pretty much dominates your life for the 5-6 months leading up to the competition - it’s a massive, massive commitment.

This year, seven Christchurch Girls' High School / Te Kura o Hine Waiora girls were a part of Te Rōpu Haka o Kimihia; a group made up of Christchurch Girls' High School / Te Kura o Hine Waioria, Christchurch Boys' High School, Linwood College, Cashmere High School and Haeata Community Campus. The campaign process is pretty grueling at times - our girls gave up over a week of their term 2 holidays to upwards of 8 hours of intensive kapa haka per day, and many of the practises were challenges in themselves just to get through. Having stood in two previous competitions with the same group (2017, when I was year 9, and 2019 in year 11), I knew how hard they could get, and our girls blew me away with their hard work and refusal to give up, no matter how tough it got.

We had our fair share of speed bumps (and tears, and sickness) along the journey, but the way competing in serious, very full on kapa haka connects you with your Māoritanga makes the entire journey entirely worthwhile. For many of our seven competitors, the lead up to the competition taught invaluable lessons about themselves, and about what it means to be Māori. For one of our girls, who isn’t even Māori, practises ignited her love for the native culture of our country, and even though she didn’t get the opportunity to take the stage, she showed up to every practise after the cut-off date, eager to learn more about kapa haka and Te Ao Māori.

Our team of tutors provided us with the most amazing bracket - the skills they brought to our performance was out of this world, and I cannot thank them enough for letting us be a part of this group. Being my last ever performance with Christchurch Girls' High School / Te Kura o Hine Waiora in Kimihia, it was a pretty emotional time for me, too. I know that this campaign has developed not only my own, but all the girls' skills in, and love of kapa haka.

I could not have been more proud to stand with Kimihia this year, alongside our girls who inspired me (and showed me up on the commitment front for most of the campaign) and even let me tag along in their friend group (sometimes) when we were on breaks. Even though we came third (a good placing, not the one we were after) it was a competition not to be missed, and we came off that stage buzzing, and as proud as ever to be Māori.

Link to the performance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hcw9L4Bx6s0