Online haka lessons connect Māori and Tauiwi to our culture

By Bronson Perich

Hutt Valley Kapa Haka teacher Whaitiri Poutawa found himself locked away from his students and started teaching via Facebook when lockdown began.

His online presence has taken him beyond the Hutt Valley. People from around the world have reached out to him. Poutawa tells us how Australian-born Māori felt about his lessons.

He says that they were, “Crying out for a resource, that they can feel comfortable to use, that’s accessible. That they don’t feel whakamā about having to get everything right the first time. A resource that moves at a really nice pace for them.”

Whaitiri Poutawa talks haka classes - Photo / File

Turns out, more non-Māori than Māori were tuning into his haka school. The lessons, he says, provided them with a safe environment where they could learn haka and learn correct pronunciation.

“Their children were in a safe environment, they didn’t feel any expectation. They were just [sic] able to enjoy the kapa haka.”

He composed a COVID-19 haka that gives tamariki and opportunity to be loud and expressive. He says, it gives quiet tamariki a chance to express their opinions as well. He wanted it to be relevant to tamariki who are going through COVID-19 in real time. The haka can be viewed below.

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