Kapa haka continues to strengthen ties in Taranaki

By Regan Paranihi

The sixth annual Taranaki Tū Mai Festival took place in Inglewood over the weekend and, while it is a celebration where the eight tribes of Taranaki come together, it is also a stage of learning, expressing and telling the many stories of their ancestor Taranaki through the art of kapa haka. 

Kapa haka continues to strengthen the ties in Taranaki.

Tamzyn Pue (Ngāti Maru) says it is an opportunity for the tribes to come together to learn their own customs, their own songs and all of those things to solidify the likes of Ngāruahine, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru and that is the beauty of this gathering.

For Te Poihi Campbell (Ngāti Ruanui), it is firstly a learning opportunity for the tribes so they can carry out the teachings inside. 

It is also an art form that brings these descendants of the ancestor mountain back home.

Ruta Broughton (Ngā Rauru ki Tahi) says no matter where you are from, or where you are in Taranaki, this is a time to grasp the blocks of our ancestor mountain of Taranaki.

The compulsory item in the kapa haka competition is an asset for these performers as it is another way for them to stand as one.

Broughton says if Taranaki go to marae around the country we can stand as one to sing together and that will show that we stand in unity. 

Tama Ale Samoa (Ngā Ruahinerangi) agrees and says when we go to kaupapa like Koroneihana we will all know the songs and that is the beauty of it.

Despite the development of kapa haka, the old songs never wear out.

Broughton says you see that tribe and that tribe and how strong they are to compose new songs but also how they revitalise the old songs as well. 

Campbell asks, how do we gather the many people? and says Taranaki Tū Mai is one way because he is the one who bound us all together.

The details of next year's gathering are still to be decided.