Te Ahi a Tahurangi joins Whanganui-a-Tara haka competition

By Aroha Mane

The Wellington regional kapa haka competition gets underway at the Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua this coming Saturday. Amongst the competing teams, is a new group with strong affiliations to Taranaki and Tūhoe. Here is our special feature on Te Ahi a Tahurangi.

"The guiding vision of this team comes from koro Wharehuia (Milroy), the group is guided by two aphorisms he coined. Firstly, 'humility is the repository of benevolence'. Secondly, 'bring to attention our beloved homelands, to the tip of the tongue," kaikōrero Tama Ale Samoa says.

Samoa, who is a kaiako for the group, is from Taranaki and affiliates to Aotea waka and the people of Ngā Ruahinerangi. 

"Most of our group are former members of Tū Te Maungaroa. They belong to the late Hema Temara, they're also students of Te Teira Davis," he says,  

"This team has been a long time coming and now it's time."

Samoa says, "We are Te Ahi a Tahurangi and our team was founded in Taranaki. The story for Te Ahi a Tahurangi comes from our ancestor Tahurangi who was the first person to climb Taranaki mountain. His people settled there and maintained mana over the summit and the surrounding tribes in its vicinity.

"The meaning around our group Te Ahi a Tahurangi, its foundations are rooted in Taranaki, its pillars link to Tūhoe Pōtiki, that's the Tū Te Maungaroa connection. There are also connections to Waikato and Taranaki mountain. So its various links extend to many tribes nationally."

Harata Biddle is a kaihaka for Te Ahi a Tahurangi. She says this will be the group's first regional competition.

"I remember 10-years ago, this group stood at the Ahurei ā Tūhoe festival and represented Taranaki. As a result, (Samoa) felt it was time for this team to stand in a regional competition. This will be Te Ahi a Tahurangi's first stand," Biddle says, who is Tūwharetoa and lives in Wellington. 

Karauria Wall is Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Tūhoe and was raised in Ruātoki under Taiarahia maunga. He is also a kaihaka for the group.

"My passion for kapa haka comes from the words and honouring our ancestors. When you stand on the stage you're not alone, your family is always with you. Even if they have departed this world, their spirit is always a part of us," Wall says.

"Our future aspirations are about installing the language and traditions within our children," Samoa says.

The team acknowledges Ngā Taonga mai Tāwhiti and Tū Te Maungaroa who for a long time have sustained kapa haka in the region.