TV challenge is 'full on'
Best friends Edmund Eramiha and Kani Collier rub shoulders with Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison in a new reality television show designed to promote kapa haka.
Both work as group fitness trainers and appear on The Kapa, a 12-week programme that premiered on February 13 and features on Maori Television every Thursday at 7.30pm.
Contestants work together in groups of eight to choreograph kapa haka performances and someone is eliminated after each challenge until just eight remain. They have been mentored by some of the country's top kapa haka performers, including Temuera Morrison.
"He came in on day five and by then everyone was exhausted. It was one of my biggest highlights having him there because he lightened the mood, made everyone laugh and shared stories and experiences," Mr Collier says.
"When I was a child he performed as the leader of the kapa haka group Ngati Rangiwewehi.
"He was awesome and he still is today. He still holds all that knowledge.
"I was very honoured to be there and listen to him speak."
Filming was tough, both physically and emotionally, the CBD resident says.
"The challenges were given to us the day before. We would prepare until about 3am and have to wake up at 6am to perform.
"Our mentors told us they would have struggled if they were put under the same pressure. It was really full on but worth it."
Luckily the two best friends have lots of experience to draw on.
They both performed in kapa haka groups while at high school and also spent several years working in Queenstown as part of a haka show for tourists.
Both have completed the bachelor of Maori performing arts at Unitec.
"We love the rush of performing," Mr Eramiha of Mt Eden says.
"What better way to showcase your own culture. We also learn about our identity, who we are and what treasures our ancestors left for us to carry on and showcase."
Mr Collier says he is also carrying on a family tradition.
His parents competed for titles in well-known kapa haka groups during his childhood and he and his mother still perform together.
"Taking part in the television series was an unforgettable experience," Mr Eramiha says.
"I loved it because when our Maori youth see this they are going to say ‘I want to be like those guys'. It's about encouraging and inspiring others."