Kapa haka festival returns

Keen . . . The Oamaru Intermediate School Kapa Haka group are ready to take the stage at next week’s North Otago Matariki Hui Ako being held at the Oamaru Opera House.

More than 700 secondary, primary and kindergarten pupils from around North Otago are gathering next week for the region’s first kapa haka festival in three years.

The North Otago Matariki Hui Ako will take place at the Oamaru Opera House next Thursday , with 19 groups taking part.

Oamaru Intermediate School teacher and spokeswoman Vic Forrest said the event had been biennial, but did not go ahead last year because of Covid-19 restrictions. It was then hoped it could be run during Matariki celebrations this year.

‘‘But again, it just couldn’t happen,’’ Mrs Forrest said.

‘‘So it’s really nice to have an event where the community can come together and celebrate that Maori culture.’’

The event had been running since 2006, and was initially held at St Kevin’s College, with only a few schools taking part, she said.

‘‘Now it’s got that big that they’ve got to split it in half, and have half the schools in the morning, and half in the afternoon, which is awesome.’’

This was the intermediate group’s first public performance, as they had not been able to perform at assemblies or prize›givings over the last two years.

The event was organised by Resource Teacher of Maori in Otago, Lauana Thomas, with Nola Tipa and David Higgins of Te Runanga o Moeraki as MCs.

Two student leaders from each school would also be acknowledged at the event.

‘‘Each school will choose two students for . . .it could be for their leadership, their mana, their personality — just two standout students from their school.’’

The event was open to parents of the participating children, and there was the possibility of limited seating for members of the public, Mrs Forrest said.

The two sessions take place at 9.30am and 12.30pm.