Hutt Valley kaiako starts online haka classes

By D'Angelo Martin

A primary school kapa haka teacher based in Hutt Valley Wellington has taken his lessons online. Whaitiri Poutawa says when the lockdown was announced he was unsure if he could carry on teaching kapa haka. Then came the idea to create a Facebook page where he would go live Monday to Friday to teach his young students.

The Hutt Valley kaiako has been teaching kapa haka for the past 10 years. He says that for him, it isn't a job it's his passion.

"I do three to four classes a day somedays. If I'm running an after school program I might visit five schools a day. So I just drive from school to school and I run a one hour lesson."

That was his daily schedule from Monday to Friday. But when the lock-down announcement came it meant finding an alternative teaching platform.

"When it first happened I freaked out a little bit. I sat down with my wife and she suggested that we look at ways where we can stay engaged with our schools. So I started doing some sessions on Facebook."

From what was just passing thought by his wife, he could continue teaching kids kapa haka by doing live Facebook sessions.

The first haka tuition video. Source/Facebook.

"We run at 11 am in the morning, we start off with a karakia and then we do some easy waiata for warmup. We break down three or four songs per session.  "The second week we run a poi workshop just some real basic poi movements and last week we started rakau poto or tititōria."

Poutawa says these kapa haka sessions are primarily for kids, to teach them the foundation and basics of kapa haka. He says it definitely isn't just for Māori kids but it is for everyone.

"We are getting some amazing feedback from a lot of families that are saying our kids have always wanted to give kapa haka a go. But the barrier to accessing it at school. Maybe they've been a bit nervous." 

Even though the page has only been active for three weeks, within that time he has viewers tuning in from across the world.

"Now we've got a real core group of followers and we have whānau checking in on us, from as far away as Norway.  We've got two families from Japan, we've got three to four families in the USA and all across Australia.

Whaitiri says he looks to carry on these online kapa haka sessions after lockdown to be available as a learning resource for kids. The lessons can be accessed here.