Youth group excels at festival

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 14:44 29/11/2012
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

The kapa haka group at Number 10 in Invercargill.

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A group of troubled youth from Invercargill have put adversity behind them to be star performers at a festival in Canterbury celebrating Maori culture.

The 20-strong kapa haka group of young Maori people from Number 10, a youth services agency, performed at the Ngai Tahu Hui-a-Iwi festival held last weekend at Lincoln.

Number 10 youth worker Kylie-Jane Phillips said the festival showcased the talent of Ngai Tahu artists, entertainers, kapa haka, sports people, foodies and crafts people, with the group from Invercargill recognised as outstanding performers.

"The group, representing the Oraka-Aparima whanau, won the award for top performer along with the people's choice award at the festival," she said.

Ms Phillips said the results were even more impressive considering it was the first time a performance group from Number 10 had travelled to the event.

While the result was impressive, Ms Phillips said the group of vulnerable youths, ranging in age mainly from 13 to 18, had already won before they took to the stage at the festival.

"These are young people who struggle with self-belief and who they are. Many of them had lived and continue to live with violence, drugs and other hardships in their lives," she said.

"During the two-month journey leading up to the event, it was possible to see the change, the confidence and pride many of these kids experienced as they practised."

For young Maori people, kapa haka was a way to open the door into their culture and their identity, Ms Phillips said.

"It is a tool that can be used to create well-being within the individual and whanau."

Ms Phillips said it was great to get support from local iwi.

She said some of the young Maori people who came to Number 10 might grow into the leaders of tomorrow.

"These kids are coming into their own. Not all of them will make it but if we reach even a handful, we'll take that," she said. neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

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- The Southland Times

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