Culture to culture: Canadians learn the poi
Members of a Canadian girls' rugby team were given the opportunity to tackle their way into Maori culture last week.
The Carson Graham Secondary School Rugby teamwere treated to a powhiri and poi performance last week by the Hawera High School's Maori Performing Arts group. They were also given an opportunity to perform themselves.
The Kapa Haka girls selected a group from the 29 girls currently touring New Zealand on their biennial trip,and gave them a poi. Although they weren't able to keep up with the Maori performers, and were slightly unco-ordinated, the Canadians clearly enjoyed themselves.
Brad Baker, the coach of the rugby team, said they were in awe of the performance.
"It was very passionate and very powerful, and it just shows our students they are able to show pride in their own culture," he said. "We have a strong aboriginal culture in Canada so we were happy to experience Maori culture too."
Phil King, the teacher in charge of Maori performing arts, said the school was more than happy to perform for the team.
"Basically it was to give an insight into our culture in the region," he said. "And the fact that they're teenagers to teenagers is a good thing. When kids do it to each other, they get more of a value out of it."
Rayne Foulds, 14, was one of the rugby players selected to use the poi and said she realised how much work everybody had put into it.
"Obviously it can look easy, but it's not," she said.
Another player, Sabrina Kiani, 15, admitted she couldn't use the poi, but "it was pretty cool".
The rugby team stood and sung their waiata, the Canadian National Anthem, 'O Canada', after coach Baker and their captains stood and thanked the Maori performers - a tradition in Maori culture. The head men of the team were also greeted with a hongi.
The meet up was organised by Christina West, who runs the Mount View Motel with her son and husband. She had arranged for the group to perform for guests in the past and loved giving them "more than just a pillow to put their head on".
The Canadians only stopped in Hawera for a night before they played in New Plymouth the next day. They have been touring New Zealand playing rugby and were next off to Australia and then flying home on March 26.