Kapahaka festival at El Rancho


by Margaret Andrews

The annual Kapiti schools kapahaka festival –Takiri o te Ata, involved almost 800 children from 15 schools the length of the Kapiti district and a packed El Rancho Kauri Hall filled with children and supporters.

“This just gets better and better every year,” said Yvonne Tahere from Otaki School’s immersion unit, Te Korowhai Whakamana (TKW). “Teachers and tutors are upskilling every year; performances and costumers are amazing.”

Host school this year was Kapiti School, in the hall to lead the whakatau –short powhiri welcome and calling in of all the schools, with groups numbering between 40 and 100 children each.

Some schools had new costumes and all the children, from the youngest TKW nohinohi group of five to seven and eight year olds, to those in year seven and eight performed to a very high standard. Those leading each group, the soloists and kaitataki taitama – male leaders, choral singing, dance and haka were inspirational.

Waitohu School’s boys prepare for the haka during the Kapiti Schools Kapahaka Festival at Kauri Hal, El Rancho





The children showed their dedication, enthusiasm and energy in their performance.

Otaki had four groups performing, the youngsters from TKW, Otaki’s Kai Manawanui – bi lingual classes, a group from Waitohu School and a one from Te Horo School. Each group had a 15 minute slot, in which to show their prowess at song, dance, poi and haka, all of which delighted the capacity audience and the many kaumatua (elders) present.

As the tutors extended the children’s knowledge and abilities, it was interesting to have Raumati Beach School and Te Ra both sing Leonard Cohen’s hit song Halleluiah in te reo-Maori.

The day drew to a close with Kapiti School handing the mauri – the life force and treasure of Takiri o te Ata to the tuakana, senior TKW children, who will host the festival next year, probably at Nga Purapura.