The power of kapa haka: Increasing confidence and engagement in kura

If there was no kapa haka in school, would you still go to school? A question that many Māori students have thought about. 

Ohinga went to Autaia Haka Theatre: Mauri Tauri Day to ask past and present Māori students and parents how important kapa haka is for rangatahi and if they would still go to school if kapa haka wasn’t available to them. 

The responses were mixed but a vast majority said they wouldn’t go or have gone to school if kapa haka wasn’t available to them.

A student from James Cook High School says:

“Kapa haka is a way for us to identify who we are and where we come from.”

Rangimarie Hunia, former CEO of Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Māia, gives her perspective on why kapa haka is important for our people, she says:

“At the heart of haka, it’s the best of who we are. Our talent, our reo, our tikanga, our stories, our whakapapa, our connections to one another; that’s what haka does, that’s what haka is, so it’s extremely important.”

According to a blog by Whare Isaac-Sharland, a proponent, practitioner and facilitator of Te Aho Matua, and Māori Medium Education, “Kapa haka reinforces a sense of belonging, strengthening whakawhanaunatanga, which plays a huge role toward positive feelings experienced”. 

“Students identified that kapa haka is a gift handed down from ātua, acknowledging traditional Māori understandings, providing an avenue for students to express topical issues, whilst allowing them to celebrate their unique Māoriness. Akonga considered kapa haka a powerful form of learning.”

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