Taiopenga a celebration of culture

20:31, Oct 28 2014
Taiopenga
Redwoodtown Kindergarten children perform yesterday at Taiopenga, the annual Marlborough cultural festival.

Maori culture was celebrated yesterday, with Marlborough children taking to the stage to perform at the first day of Taiopenga.

Marlborough's annual Maori performing arts festival has more than doubled in size since it began in 2009.

The festival, held at the Clubs of Marlborough on Alfred St, in Blenheim, is spread over two days and a night now.

Marlborough Maori resource teacher Rita Powick, one of six people involved in organising the festival, said the event had changed dramatically in six years.

"There's more participation from schools and groups," she said.

"Kindergartens now perform, and we've even got two Kaikoura groups performing for the first time."

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Marae groups, school staff members and other Marlborough organisations were all getting up on stage to sing and perform, she said.

The majority of Marlborough schools had groups participating, she said.

"It's not a competition. It's a chance for our community to celebrate Maori culture in our schools."

Te Reo had grown in schools in the past decade, with more resources and support available for students and teachers, she said.

"It [Maori culture] is not a separate thing. Schools learn it throughout the year. It's not just learnt for Taiopenga."

Marlborough Boys' College Maori teacher Helen Joseph teaches Nga Kura Tuarua o Wairau, the combined colleges' cultural group.

The group, comprising 22 students, practises for at least four hours a week, including at the weekend.

A lot had changed in the 24 years she had taught Maori in Marlborough, Joseph said.

"The culture in Marlborough has changed. There's more Maori who have come from the North Island and settled here, and there's also a lot more Pacific people. It's multicultural now."

The Marlborough Express