Normalising traditional Māori Movement through a health revolution

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Māori Movement program has been gaining momentum and held its first workshop at Discipline Performance in Auckland.

Founder Ngarino Te Waati hopes it will foster the growth of a health revolution among Māori and normalise traditional Māori movement as a means of preventing illness and depression.

Workshop participant Leanna Tarawa-Cooper tells Te Kāea, "It got me back to my roots of being Māori and made me proud to be Māori.  I've grown up not being proud to be a Māori and, yeah, they just really opened that up for me."

Tarawa-Cooper is a fitness trainer at Discipline Performance and a presenter on Sticky TV.

She says she will now look at ways to incorporate Māori movement into her everyday life.

"I want to normalise it more.  I want people like me and Pākehā people of all different cultures to have the same feeling as me and be like wow this is actually cool."

Te Waati hopes to create a positive movement with the traditional Māori movement that promotes healthy lifestyles for Māori.

"I'm not sad about it but instead I want to help those who are overweight and those who are depressed, those afflicted by the aspects that are hurting our people."

Jahna Hura travelled from Ruatōria to gain knowledge around this practice and look at taking it back to her students at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū.

"I came along with my friend to get experience and take it back home, to strengthen Māori movement amongst our children in the community of Ruatoria."

She says there are a number of benefits for children and youth.

"To help them build confidence to express their own creativity, to stand strong and proud and not be ashamed to unleash the power and authority of their unique Ngāti Porou tribal identity."

With more workshops planned for the future, Ngarino Te Waati wants to take this movement to the world.