Welcome to part four of our Anamata series. Today kapa haka exponent Rapaera Tawhai joins Te Karere presenter Scotty Morrison to talk kapa haka.

Scotty: Welcome back everyone to another episode of Anamata, the series where we gaze into the crystal ball to see what’s in store for 2018. Today, we’re going to look at kapa haka and here with me now is our tohunga kapa haka, Rapaera Tawhai.

Rapaera: I’m not too sure if you could call me a tohunga.

Scotty: This is the first time ever you’ve been called that, eh?

Rapaera: Thank you for those kind words, Scotty!

Scotty: Let’s get started – Te Matatini 2017 is done and dusted. It’s a new year now with 2018 ahead of us, with the regionals coming up and they’re definitely going to be starting soon. What can you tell us about the regionals?

Rapaera: Yes, this year we’ve got the regional comps. This year it looks like we’ll have even more teams putting their hats in the ring for at the regionals. They’re going to be gearing up so they can get through to Te Matatini 2019 which will be in Wellington.

Scotty: Will you be putting in a bid to go to Australia so you can report on their regional over there? Surely?

Rapaera: Yes, so Arana if you’re listening…

Scotty: So you can see your friends on the GC eh? Something that’s seen at the regionals all the time is the birth of new kapa. Do you predict we’ll see new kapa at the regional comps this year?

Rapaera: Yes, and the kapa are practicing right now for the upcoming regional comps. There will be new teams entering. The Tāmaki Makaurau region has a new kapa haka, that’s Pere Wihongi and his crew. In Rotorua…

Scotty: So their team will be known as ‘Waiirua’?

Rapaera: Waiirua! (laughter)

Scotty: Have a good atmosphere. The name of the new kapa is Tū Whitia. Then there’s your relations from Ōhinemutu have started one up.

Rapaera: That’s Inia Maxwell and their lot. Are you going to come back and perform?

Scotty: I’ve retired and I’ve hung my piupiu up on the wall.

Rapaera: How lucky for the rest of us! There’s also a new group in the Tainui region. It’s been reported that Taniwharau will be brought back. The kapa was disbanded at the passing of the late Māori Queen Dame Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu. So because Taniwharau have a strong rugby league side they’ve decided that the kapa haka should make a return. Members of other kapa haka have returned to help teach and guide the group. However, all around the whole country there will be definitely be new teams competing at the regional competitions this year because you’ve got a new generation of people who want to start their own teams with a new way of looking at things.

Scotty: Time is of the essence, but can you tell us about the amount of effort each kapa puts into practice? You’ve said some have already started practicing, and you’re a seasoned performer for Te Whānau a Apanui, some would say, you were well and truly past your used by date before you jumped off stage! But when it comes to the effort put into practicing, can you shed some light on that? It’s heaps, eh?

Rapaera: Yes it is a lot of effort. Some teams spend about six months practicing. They know that if they want to get anywhere they need to practice. Some of the practices happen outside during the summer and that’s always a challenge for this type of activity and we have to remember that this is all for a 20 – 30 minute performance on stage. One of the great things about kapa haka though is that it’s a great vehicle for practicing and using our language, our tikanga and our culture. From the rugrats up to the kaumātua levels of the competition scene you get to hear the language being used in full swing.

Scotty: Thanks heaps for your time and insight, Rapaera!