Menzies College celebrates Maori language week with haka and waiata competition

JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

Menzies College Rata group haka and waiata at the Maori Language Week competition at the school.

Te Wiki o te Reo Maori was alive with passion on Friday at Menzies College in Wyndham.

Celebrating Maori Language Week at the school, and the end of the school term, Menzies' school houses, Totara, Matai, Rimu and Rata, competed in the school's annual Haka and Waiata competition.

With a trophy, 20 house points and "bragging rights" up for grabs, the students gave their all during the performances.

Menzies College year 11 Matai house student Jessie Nelson performs at the Menzies College Haka and Waiata competition.
John Hawkins

Menzies College year 11 Matai house student Jessie Nelson performs at the Menzies College Haka and Waiata competition.

Rata house emerged victorious as the overall winner and best haka performance, and best waiata was awarded to Matai house.

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Yesterday's competition was the culmination of a series of activities and celebrations for the school.

Teacher Bianca Burgess-Heald said everyone had been enthusiastic about the competition and every student, from years 7 to 13, had been involved with the activities for Manu Maori.

Those who weren't as comfortable on stage were still heavily involved in the activities during the week, making tukutuku panels and preparing kai for the shared lunch on Friday, she said.

Before the competition started, members of the Tawaroa family from Invercargill were invited to the event, with oldest daughter Hurihia Tawaroa giving a speech on not being afraid to be different.

During the competition, each house sang a waiata and performed the school haka and were decked out in their house colours and wore moko on their faces.

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Passion erupted from the students as they put everything into their performances, with one Totara house student even jumping off the stage at one point during his house's haka.

Molly Elers, 11, who performed with Rata, embarked on a solo poi performance while her fellow house members sung the much-loved waiata, Poi E.

Kapa Haka teacher Whaea Bex Brown said practice for the competition had started off slowly but all of the students had become much more focused in the past three to four weeks ahead of the competition.

Since Brown became involved with the school about four years ago, it had come a long way in its diversity.

"The hakas are fierce and the waiatas are beautiful," she said.

"As people have got more comfortable with the kaupapa [the students] have broadened their horizons."

She said she was pleased to see how leadership in Kapa Haka had grown in the school, especially in the senior students who had been able to take on those responsibilities from the teachers.

"They've stepped up to guide the younger ones," she said.

 - Stuff

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