Over the course of a weekend in June, Te Papa played host to the biggest Kaumātua Kapa Haka event yet.

Kaumātua kapa haka

More than 500 kaumātua from thirteen different groups converged on New Zealand’s national museum to perform haka and waiata for crowds of visitors and supporters. The event, which Te Tumu Paeroa are official partners to, was part of the annual Matariki Wellington Festival and was a fitting way to bring the festival to a close.

Prior to the event Te Papa’s Kaihautū (Māori co-leader) Dr Arapata Hakiwai spoke about the growth of this annual celebration.

“The joy and vibrancy of this event attracts more and more participants each year. Last year we had 450 people on stage, this year we’ve well over 500,” said Dr Hakiwai. 

“Kaumātua Kapa Haka gives our elders a chance to share their experience, knowledge and love of kapa haka with other generations. 

“The performers provide a living link between 20th century composers such as Tuini Ngawai and Ngoi Pewhairangi, and today’s generation.” 

Jamie Tuuta, Māori Trustee and CEO of Te Tumu Paeroa, said “Kaumātua Kapa Haka is a great event for us to get behind and support. It helps us preserve and celebrate our culture and it’s important that this comes from our kaumātua.”

“It’s also just a fun event for kaumātua from across New Zealand to come together for, to socialise with one another and to entertain the crowds.”

This year’s event saw participating teams from as far afield as Tokomaru Bay, Auckland, Whakatane, Patea and Christchurch.

Puti Mackey, spokesperson for the He Kura Te Tangata charity’s trustees who organise the annual event, says it’s a one-of-a-kind experience.

“Kaumātua kapa haka is all about the participants. They come to perform, to enjoy each other’s company, and to keep our history alive. There’s really nothing else like it nationally”, Mrs Mackey said.

A replay of both days of Kaumātua Kapa Haka 2016 can be viewed here and here.