Army trophy cabinet full to bursting

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 09:00 14/06/2014
Linton
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
The Linton Kapa Haka group, Kairanga, placed first in the Rangitane Regional Kapa Haka competition last month. From front; Manu Konga, Piri Peretini, Janine Simeon and Kelsi Te Peeti.

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The trophy cabinet at Linton Military Camp is straining under the weight of the successes of kapa haka group Kairanga.

The spoils of victory by the military services kapa haka group were welcomed onto the camp with a blessing ceremony yesterday.

Kairanga were named winners of the regional Rangitane Tangata Rau regional kapa competitions last month, but the champions trophy wasn't all they won.

Of the 13 elements being judged on the night, which included best male and female leaders, haka, and pronunciation, the team took home trophies for seven of them.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Brent Pene, who acts as a mentor and guitarist for the group, said it was the first time a miliary kapa haka group had made it to the national competition.

The first kapa haka group for the camp was formed in 1998, and competed for a few years before it fell by the wayside.

The group was revived late last year as the regional kapa haka competition loomed.

Having formed and practised together for less than six months before the competition, tutor Pita Savage said the group never expected to come home with such a swag of trophies. "Our mindset was, we just go in, go hard, and hop off."

Coming off stage after their performance was "awesome", Savage said.

They wrote and choreographed their performance pieces themselves, which included a waiata-a-ringa, or action song, written in commemoration of fallen soldiers in Afghanistan.

"It was a very different experience for us to take that onto the stage and we felt something on that stage that a lot of us have not felt before. It was a very special feeling."

The group has 60 to 70 members, including support whanau, but only 20 men and 20 women can perform on stage at a time.

Kairanga and Palmerston North runners-up Te Tu Mataora will both represent the Rangitane region at Te Matatini national finals in Christchurch next March.

Commander 1 Brigade Colonel Nick Gillard told the group they had excelled and he joked they would "have to get a bigger cabinet", to accommodate the the variety of relatively large, intricately carved wooden trophies the group had won.

"If you can do this on the fly, how are we going to do when you've had a bit more time to get ourselves organised for next year?"

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