The Strength in Celebrating Whakapapa: College Kapa Haka at Polyfest

March 28, 2024 at 10:40 AM

Within the diverse community of Saint Kentigern College, a powerful narrative unfolds—a story echoing immense pride, empowerment, and accomplishment. As Deputy Head Girl and a passionate advocate for our beautiful Māori culture, opportunities for promoting and celebrating cultural integration resonate deeply with me. 

As the Saint Kentigern Kapa Haka group returned to the ASB Polyfest stage for the second year in our school's history, it signified more than a mere performance; it represented a continued journey of cultural unity. With Saint Kentigern's very first Kapa Haka Wānanga, our students felt an immense sense of belonging as they became a part of a kaupapa greater than themselves, a kaupapa that celebrates the integration of our Māori culture into our school's identity.

The product of our efforts was showcased at the Manukau Sports Bowl, where the ASB Polyfest was held. The weekend was a vibrant celebration of cultural diversity and unity. Here, amidst the performers and spectators, we found ourselves immersed in the rich Māori culture, guided by the vision of our kaiako, Mātua Uekaha, Whaea Katie, Whaea Aila, and Whaea Jasmine, who herself had once graced this very stage.

As we performed, each step and note carried the weight of our collective whakapapa, infused with resilience and pride. And though Anamia Rangihaeata, my inspirational cousin and the Wishart House Leader for 2024, was unable to perform this year, her spirit resonated in the faces and voices of those who drew inspiration from her radiant influence. We dedicated our performance to her, honouring her enduring legacy and profound impact on Kapa Haka at Saint Kentigern.

This kaupapa resonated with the judges and audience, earning us a commendable 7th place overall. Our kaitātaki Wāhine, Manawa Rogers and Tāne, Allen-John Martin, embodying the spirit of our rōpū, each secured a well-deserved 2nd and 3rd place. While significant, these achievements pale compared to the sense of pride and belonging we felt as we stood united on that stage—proud representatives of our culture, whanau, school, and ourselves.

For me, this journey has been more than a performance; it validates our identity, celebrates our heritage, and showcases the power of cultural expression. Embracing our culture isn't just preservation; it's empowerment, deepening our connections with others and ourselves. Continuing this cultural celebration, I am reminded that honouring our differences brings unity, strength, and the true essence of being a Son or Daughter of Saint Kentigern.

Written by Tiana Gray, Deputy Head Girl of Saint Kentigern College

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