Awhina Kihi performs with other members of Te Whatukura Kapahaka club in the Wairua Body Coaching Systems gym at the Wakatu Estate last week, as part of the Nelson kapahaka group’s efforts to get “haka fit” for next year’s national competition. Photo: Andrew Board.

Getting ‘haka fit’ for nationals

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Nelson’s kapahaka group are being put through their paces in an effort to get “haka fit” for the national kapahaka festival next year.

Te Whatukura Kapahaka club has been doing fitness sessions with Greg Witika at Wairua Body Coaching Systems in Stoke. After a solid workout, Greg makes the group perform in the gym to get them used to performing with a high heart rate.

And they hope it will help them during the competition in Christchurch in March.

Awhina Kihi – a co-tutor and performer with the Te Whatukura Kapahaka club – came up with the idea, and says it is just the first step in a plan to use traditional movement and performing arts to inspire and motive local Maori and Pacific Islanders to embrace a more active and healthy lifestyle.

“With over twenty years involvement with Kapahaka, I have learnt it is the perfect vehicle for Māori and Pacific cultures to become involved in an active and healthy lifestyle,” she says.

Greg says there is more to becoming haka fit than physical strength and stamina and he’s coaching the performers to utilise natural movement.

“But we’re also talking about nutrition and belief in oneself, so that on the day the group can step out with confidence knowing they are going to give the very best they can.”

After the work with the kapahaka group, Awhina’s vision for a community outreach programme is taking shape, with the successful completion of the first stage of a funding application with Te Pūtahitanga.

If final funding is granted, they plan to take the programme to the wider community.