City kapa haka group raise roof at rehearsal

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2014
kapa haka
JOHN HAWKINS/FAIRFAX NZ 
PASSIONATE PERFORMANCE: Thomas Aerepo-Morga (not pictured) and Jaylee Haddon, both 16, lead the Te Wharekura o Arowhenua kapa haka group during a rehearsal before a national competition in Gisborne next week.

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A group of Invercargill teenagers raised the roof during a rehearsal performance for their peers before they take to the national stage next week.

Twenty-eight teens from Te Wharekura o Arowhenua begin their journey to Gisborne on Friday, spending the week at the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka competitions.

The school is the only group travelling to the competition from Southland after placing in the Otago-Southland competition last year.

Yesterday, the students showed off their skills to their school community, giving a rousing rendition of their performance for the highly regarded competition.

Kaiako (teacher) Duane Allen said the senior school students had spent hundreds of hours practising to perfect their kapa haka.

There had also been hangi and raffles to raise money for the event, as well as a significant grant from the Community Trust of Southland, he said.

Without the trust's donation, it was unlikely the school could have gone, he said.

For many of the performers, it was more a passion than an after-school activity.

Eugene Gillies, 15, said he loved kapa haka and because of that hours of practice were enjoyable.

The competition allowed the teenagers to not only embrace their culture and ancestry but also compete among some of the best kapa haka groups in the country, Allen said.

"It's incredibly important, especially in the a place like Southland, that our young people can truly express themselves and our Maori culture."

School principal Arni Wainui said she was incredibly proud of her students and their hard work.

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