"Beer bottles everywhere!" - Secondary school kapa haka judges removed from Whangārei motel

By Raniera Harrison

A Northland motelier is calling for accountability after she says her premises were trashed following the Te Tai Tokerau Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Regionals at the weekend.

She says she removed numerous judges at the event on Sunday morning, after drunken behaviour at the Whangārei motel.

Owner of Motel Sierra, Kath Organ says she still can't believe what she saw on Saturday night.

"All the furniture had been moved around, there was beer bottles everywhere!"

She's calling for those who judge the secondary schools kapa haka in Te Tai Tokerau to task.

"I don't want to see them judge again. I think that should be stripped of them" says Organ, who has owned Whangārei motel, Motel Sierra for the last 5 years.

Up to 15 people were asked to vacate Whangārei's Motel Sierra early on Sunday morning, after what the owners describe as "drunken behaviour."

The booking was made on behalf of Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau - hosting the judges of Tōkihi Ki Tua - the Te Tai Tokerau Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Regionals in Whangārei on Saturday.

The owners of the motel, today - still visibly upset

"I've done all of this stuff for other people and to be told I'm disrespectful, that's not fair because I'm not" says an emotional Organ, as she recounts asking guests to leave.

Te Ao made numerous attempts to contact Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau - the governing body of Tōkihi Ki Tua, and the Te Tai Tokerau Festival, which started today - however, they were unsuccesful. Whangārei Girls High School who are hosting the 44th Te Tai Tokerau Festival want to focus on hosting the two day event which started today.

Te Reo Māori teacher at Whangārei Girls' High School, Moana-Aroha Henry - who also judged at the Tōkihi ki Tua event at the weekend says "this event is under the jurisdiction of Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau, for me - it's just about Whangārei Girls High School protecting the sanctity of Te Tai Tokerau Festival."

Te Ao has obtained the list of names of those involved, however, has chosen not to publish them.

One judge at Tōkihi Ki Tua who was not present on Saturday night says there are definite ramafications for kapa haka in Northland.

"There were definitely gaps, there are holes that need to be filled for kapa haka to thrive in Te Tai Tokerau" says Pere Wihongi, head tutor of Auckland-based senior group, Angitū.

The owners of Motel Sierra say they have issued a warning to other motels in the region not to take bookings from events of this nature again.

"Are they going to do the same thing to another motel in Whangārei? Because they think it's their right after a hard day of being a judge that they need to sit down and drink themselves in to such a state where they can be quite abusive to the owners of the place - I don't know" says Organ.

The Te Tai Tokerau Festival ends tomorrow.