A female kapa haka performer is challenging gender roles at competitions – and says eventually she wants to haka as a man.
In a moving story on TVNZ’s Marae this morning, Kerehitiana Matua-Kora, explained that even as a six-year-old she knew swinging poi wasn't for her.
"It's really difficult for me because I really want to stand as a tane and that’s just me."
Kerehitiana, with her twin sister Terehia beside her, performed last week for Te Toka Tū Manawa, a group competing in a regional competition in Tāmaki Makaurau.
The Tūhoe-Te Arawa identifies as trans. She's the group’s guitar player and performed wearing half women's and half men's costume.
It's a position Terehia says her twin shouldn't have to be in, given allowances are made for men who want to perform as women.
"To me it's why do boys get to perform as ladies and then there's no tikanga about women being a tane?
"When men perform as ladies it's pretty difficult because then you can't have a female performing as a tane."
The twins' father Hammond Matua recognises the difficulties the situation presents.
"I started to see my girl turn into a boy and she started to have her own thoughts, even though I had taught her, hey keep doing the poi, keep doing the poi.
"If you’re a woman, it's fine you performing like a man. But as a support role behind them.
"However, the moment you put yourself in the men's line and become an actual man, that’s something that’s never ever been tested," Mr Matua said.
Reflecting the difficulties around the issue, a commentator from champion group Te Waka Huia, Tiria Waitai said it was an issue she was firmly sitting on the fence on.
"My advice would be that she should seek some advice from her own kaumātua, from her own whānau."