Ruth Aiolupotea at the Te Tauihu regional kapa haka competition. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Nelson’s kapa haka in full voice


Nelson’s kapa haka culture is experiencing a resurgence following a successful regional showcase over the weekend.

Fuelled by emotion after losing one of its stalwarts, Nelson-based group, Kia Ngawiri, took out the Te Tauihu regional kapa haka competition on Saturday

The group took top honours at the annual senior top of the south competition and will now represent the region at the national Te Matatini festival in February 2019.

Hundreds of people packed the Nelson College hall for a showcase of Maoridom with waiata, haka and poi performances all passionately delivered.

Regional delegate to the national board of kapa haka, Tom Alesana, says Kia Ngawiri dedicated its performance to a member who recently passed away.

The four competing teams had to present a performance featuring at least 24 people aged over 14 years and were judged in seven different disciplines.

These included their stage entry, traditional chant, action songs, hakas and stage exits.

“The performances were fantastic, there are some great things happening in the kapa haka world in Nelson,” Tom says.

He says kapa haka in the region has experienced its share of ups and downs.

“It’s growing again, we have had a huge emphasis on ensuring our young people upskill, so today was also about showcasing that our next generation is where we are going to see the fruits of our labour.”

Tom says the resurgence in the region has been rewarded.

Nelson has recently been awarded hosting rights for three major national kapa haka competitions. “We will host the national primary competition in 2021, the national secondary schools in 2022 and national seniors in 2025.”

Tom says there is plenty to do to prepare the region and its people.

“We have a big body of work in front of us as we want our people to represent the region as well as they can on the stage.”

This will be the first-time the national primary school’s competition takes place in the South Island.

“It’s a huge feat for a small region.”