Haka makes student 'feel proud'

03:03, Jun 29 2014

Performing kapa haka in front of a large audience is second nature to hundreds of Taranaki schoolkids.

About 25 schools from Taranaki, Whanganui and Ruapehu have been taking part in the 2014 Manu Korero and Pae Rangatahi festival at Spotswood College this week.

The event drew up to 1000 students and guests over the two days.

Manu Korero is a speech competition, while the Pae Rangatahi is a kapa haka festival for youths.

Jarvis Oke, of New Plymouth Boys' High School, typifies the attitude of many who were taking part. Jarvis said he "felt proud" to be on stage to perform the haka.

"It's like everything stopped and you're just there," the 13-year-old said. "I'm definitely doing it again next year."


He has been part of a kapa haka group since he was six and said the art kept him grounded.

"It just changed me," he said. "It's how I find my feet."

New Plymouth Girls' High School Maori head Rihari Brown said the speech competition gave youths a "chance to shine".

It was also a way for students to stand in front of their peers and show what they were capable of, he said. "Students get to represent their tribe and their region," Brown said.

Manu Korero is in its 49th year and Brown said it was a platform for many "successful careers".

"A lot of them are in journalism. At Maori TV, just about every reporter on there has either won or been represented at Manu Korero." Brown also said the kapa haka performance allowed youths to celebrate their culture.

"They do it energetically and enthusiastically," he said.

Winners from the Manu Korero competition will head to Hawke's Bay in September for the nationals.

Spotswood College principal Mark Bowden said the festival was an important "cultural learning" event for students to engage in tikanga Maori. He also said the day would not be successful without whaea Jo Thompson-Garrett, of New Plymouth Boys' High School, who had worked "sunup to sundown" for the event.