Precious taonga inspires Te Arawa kapa haka group ahead of Te Matatini

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Kapa haka teams from around Aotearoa have been practising hard ahead of this week’s Te Matatini, the biggest kapa haka event in the Māori calendar.

To aid in their preparations, one Te Arawa group received an inspirational visit from a special taonga relating to the waiata they will be performing at this special event.

Tūtāuru is a significant taonga in Te Arawa history, and is currently in the care of Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa through a loan arrangement with Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Last Saturday saw a unique opportunity to take Tūtāuru out to a Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao kapa haka practice, enabling the kapa to see Tūtāuru and share kōrero about this very special taonga.

John Tiakitai Turi, the kapa’s waiata composer, includes kōrero of Tūtāuru in the kapa’s whakaeke (entry) at this year’s Te Matatini kapa haka competition which starts this week in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

In the waiata Turi references Te Arawa kōrero about Ngāhue, an early explorer who, alongside Kupe, discovered Aotearoa. Ngāhue is said to have taken blocks of pounamu back from Aotearoa to Hawaiki, and used these to create the toki (axes), Hahauterangi and Tūtāuru, that fashioned the Te Arawa waka.

Tamatekapua, Kahumatamomoe and Ihenga, who arrived on the waka, were responsible for naming many of the land marks in the Rotorua, Auckland and Northland areas. This is referenced in the waiata to show the links between Tūhourangi and Ngāti Whātua, the hosts of Te Matatini 2023, ‘Herenga waka, Herenga tāngata’.

“The kapa were in awe to behold this taonga, our very existence is due in no small part to this toki. It brought an astute awareness to the depth of meaning in the lyrics. An intangible expression of our identity and being,” said John Turi Tiakitai.

Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa Collections staff, Manaaki Pene and Andrew Shaw were extremely grateful and honoured to escort the taonga on the visit.

“It was pretty emotional to be able to share and hear kōrero about this taonga, but also to be treated to a sneak preview of part of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao Te Matatini bracket”, explained Manaaki Pene, Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa Curator Mātauranga Māori.

Six teams from Te Arawa have qualified for Te Matatini 2023 including Te Pikikōtuku o Ngāti Rongomai, Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Te Mātarae I Ōrehu, Te Kapa Haka o Ngāti Whakaue and Te Hekenga ā Rangi.


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