Regional Smear Your Mea campaign 2018. Source: Smear Your Mea
All kapa performing at Te Matatini 2019 are being called to take on a new challenge, to get all of their female members tested for cervical cancer before the competition later this month.
Northern rōpū Muriwhenua posted a video to the Smear Your Mea Facebook page to launch the challenge.
“What better way to start this campaign off than starting right at the top with Muriwhenua. We are 100 percent smeared," Muriwhenua leader Hera Te Kurapa says in the video.
“We challenge you, other rōpū to jump on our bandwagon and do the same.”
Te Kurapa is a trustee of the Smear Your Mea Trust formed by renowned Māori cultural performer, the late Talei Morrison who passed away last year from cervical cancer.
Te Kurapa says the trust's goal was to have all kapa smeared at their regional competitions.
But with the new challenge, she says, “We wanted to make it bigger, and especially with the passing of our mate Talei, going to Matatini was going to be the bigger end goal.”
Muriwhenua video. Source: Smear Your Mea, Facebook
In New Zealand, 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and around 50 die from it.
“It is important for our women. I couldn’t fathom losing another close friend, a mum, a sister or a daughter to a cancer that I know is preventable,” says Te Kurapa.
Since the video was posted last week, Muriwhenua has received great support.
“We’re absolutely buzzing because I am an admin on the Smear Your Mea page- within minutes we already had 735 views!” says Te Kurapa.
So far she has not received any messages from kapa about supporting the kaupapa, but that could change.
“From today onwards it’s just seeing whether other kapa are going to take up that challenge.”
A total of 46 teams from 13 regions across Aotearoa and Australia have qualified to compete at Te Matatini ki Te Ao, set to take place from February 20 to 24 at Wellington's Westpac Stadium.
A cervical smear testing station will also be set up at the competition for wāhine wanting to get tested.