The many faces of haka and healthiness


The name, Te Matatini, was gifted from Professor Wharehuia Milroy and represents the many faces of kapa haka.

“They include the thousands of kapa haka performers, tutors and composers, young and old, who bring kapa haka to life every day, at home and on the marae, in schools and communities and at regional, national and international events.

They also include the many individuals and whānau who work tirelessly and voluntarily behind the scenes supporting their rōpū and ensuring kapa haka is sustained from the grassroots of iwi, hapu, whānau to the national and international stages.

Māori Performing Arts brings together people of all ages, all backgrounds, all beliefs, Māori and non-Māori alike, participants and observers. When I look I see many faces, young and old”

– Professor Wharehuia Milroy

Ever since Wednesday the nation appears gripped in the fascination that emerges from the world’s premiere kapa haka event.   All eyes are riveted in the caketin in Wellington (the Westpac stadium) where 46 groups take to the stage; to the delight of five thousand plus fans in the audience and thousands more across the globe by virtue of facebook, Māori Television and Te Matatini live feeds.

Offices have been transformed into movie theatres – blinds down, plain white walls suddenly transformed into a space for the laptop projected videos to be shared.   We cried, we laughed, we exclaimed when a red balloon found its way onstage, we admired the finesse and the form of our favourite groups, we listened to the bell toll; we commented on the white shirts and top hats, we marveled at the ‘honour te tiriti’ banner – in short it was ‘almost’ as good as being there.

Our best of luck and love to all our roopu but in particular to those from Te Tauihu (Kia Ngawari; and Waitaha (Te Rōpū Haka o Ngā Manu a Tāne; Te Ahikaaroa; Te Poutūmārō).  We are all there with you on the stage, in spirit and on the screen. (And I couldn’t be a prouder māmā to have our daughter on the Matatini stage).

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Haka Fit and Healthy Fit

I love the campaign amongst the health and wellbeing movement that has been demonstrated in supporting our kapa haka to focus on their wellbeing in the lead up to Te Matatini.   Hale Compound Conditioning was part of this kaupapa, taking some of the Waitaha groups on a wellness journey – Ngā Manu a Tāne is featured above.


Last week, Healthy Day at the Pā – an event that we have sponsored with the support of Pharmac – as a means of achieving health literacy, healthy lifestyles.   It was so fabulous that over 100 kaumātua gathered at Rehua Marae to focus on being well, staying well.

Long Term conditions – Making it Real

On Friday 22nd February, Vania Pirini and I spoke to the national conference on longterm conditions, particularly focusing on diabetes.

  • Diabetes is almost three times more common in Māori than non-Māori

  • Death rates of Māori aged 45–64 years due to diabetes are nine times higher than for non-Māori New Zealanders of the same age.

  • Māori are diagnosed younger and are more likely to develop diabetic complications such as eye disease, kidney failure, strokes and heart disease.

Our focus in our presentation, emphasized the prevention of diabetes at a whānau level, predicated upon promotion of healthy kai, exercise and, therefore, weight control. We know that behaviour change rests at the individual level with whānau.  Leadership in the whānau can be seen in who is the ‘shopper’, who is the ‘motivator’? How do we plan a menu to focus on health? Who gets us out of the couch and into gear – going for a walk around the block, a breath of fresh air, a swim, a game of league?

The ever-energetic Vania Pirini completely overwhelmed the audience by calling on her inner Jennifer Lopaz and getting everyone moving to a little bit of kanikani, korikori, katakata.   How ironic it was that while we were talking about taking a holistic approach to health, all we could hear was the thundering feet of the 2017 World champions of te Matatini – Whangara Mai Tawhiti – as they practiced their bracket on the top floor of Te Papa above us.


Wave Nine on the Road North

This week we took to the road for Wave Nine consultation, starting off at Te Awhina Marae  in Motueka, with a number of whānau turning up, including :Ann Martin, Ronald Petley, Moeke Paaka, Susan Piket, Ranui Young, John Mutu, Donna McLeod, Tania Corbett, Te Ra Morris.  


Later that day Victory community centre was a central base in Nelson city for energetic dialogue and discussion. 

Whanau consist of ( in no particular order )  : Marie Lindaya, Matekino Pal, Geoff Mullen, Tiriana Te Pakeke, Bessie McCabe, Joan R Carew, Ruth Tipu, Raeana Papuni, Huriana Lawrence, Ebony Alleyne, Gina-Lee Duncan. 


While in the North this week, Serena Lyders took the opportunity of meeting up again with our Emergency Response Navigator, Kahutane Whaanga.


Manaiakalani in the Whare

It was such a thrill this week to pay a visit to Hornby Primary School as one of two clusters in Christchurch modelled on the Manaiakalani approach.   From being greeted at the gate with the perfect expression of manaaki, to an eloquent Whakatau within te ruma toru, it was a wonderful couple of hours spent in the company of learners.   All the children have tablets upon which they write a daily blog – influenced by the focus of learn, create and share. Teachers, parents, whānau can comment on the blog – as long as it is positive, helpful and strengths based.   

The ‘affordances’ of the technology – enabling learning to be visible and to be shared has another advantage.   You can rewind the learning – playing back what the original instructions were and reinforcing the learning that is taking place.


I loved talking with Jazaky who explained to me that if you really wanted to focus on your learning it was useful to put headphones on – to block out the noise but also to signal to others “I am concentrating and do not want to be interrupted”.  I like the concept!

FUSH and Te Taumata

And for those of you who know Hector and Anton Matthews – you might have recognized Whaea Heather as the inspirational Kaiako who featured in our visit to Hornby Primary.   Ngā mihi aroha ki te kaiako me te Tumuaki o te kura.

We had a fantastic opportunity this week with both our General Partner limited Board and Te Taumata – our nine iwi stakeholders –in town, to bring Anton in to talk about his FUSH initiative.   It was so wonderful to hear him explain how sharing kai is a really accessible, non-threatening way by which to begin a language conversation. Our Board loved the kōrero – and devoured the kaimoana he brought with him!


Expand and Grow Whānau Ora

What a fabulous thrill this week to read all of the glowing press releases and to savour every word in the Whānau Ora Review report, Tipu Matoro ki te Ao, Final Report to Minister for Whānau Ora.  

The report confirms while the Whānau Ora approach is new, it has created positive change for whānau and must be given the chance to bed in.  It is enthusiastic about the expression of the Whānau Ora approach in commissioning, describing it as culturally anchored, whānau-centred and strengths-based.

We leave the last word to the Minister:

9. JO HAYES (National) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does this Government believe in the Whānau Ora model?

Hon PEENI HENARE (Minister for Whānau Ora): Yes.

Jo Hayes: How confident is he that all of his ministerial colleagues across Government parties will share his enthusiasm for increasing funding for Whānau Ora in Budget 2019?


Jo Hayes: Does he believe all his ministerial colleagues will be open to expanding and growing the model, as recommended by the panel?

Hon PEENI HENARE: In light of the review, I'm confident that this Government will be working hard to make sure that Whānau Ora as a model will continue to empower families right across this country. That member knows and understands the way that the Budget cycle works in this House, and I hope that in the coming months she will be alert to the announcements of positivity from this side of the House.

Jo Hayes: How long does he expect it to take for Te Puni Kōkiri to report back to him on where Whānau Ora can be implemented in the social sector?

Hon PEENI HENARE: Whānau Ora is already active and implemented in the social sector. I am confident, in light of the review, that this year there will be some significant movement in this space for the prosperity of our people.

Jo Hayes: What guarantees can he give to Whānau Ora providers who feel they've been left in limbo about their futures during the period of the review?

Hon PEENI HENARE: I give all guarantees to the Whānau Ora providers, far and wide, in this country. I want to thank them for their good work in the communities and the work that they do with families, and can I remind providers, the general public, and this House that Whānau Ora as a kaupapa is actually bigger than any one individual or any one part. The kind of fundamental shift that we want to achieve for prosperity for our families is far greater than any single one part.

Luke EganComment