300 performers with intellectual disabilities from around the North Island took to the stage at the inaugural Te Anga Pāua o Āotearoa National Kapa Haka Festival in Hamilton.
Performing the Ngāti Kahungunu anthem “Kōtiro Māori E” was a delight for the crowd and performers of Te Waka Toka o Heretaunga haka group alike.
“I really enjoyed Kōtiro Mai and learning the actions,” says Chelsea Taylor, “It was pretty hard, I'm still learning at the moment but I had a really good time.”
“I enjoyed everything and I'm so proud of it,” says Chrystal Gray.
For months Te Waka Toka o Heretaunga, along with 14 other kapa, have been practising to showcase their passion and talent, highlighting that disabilities are not a barrier to achieving.
Te Waka Toka o Heretaunga tutor, Jake Moanaroa says the festival is a chance for performers "to experience te ao Māori...to show everyone that our tāngata whaiora can do big waiata like this and they can come up here and perform.”
Last year IHC's IDEA Services hosted the first regional kapa haka festival within their northern, central and southern areas.
Today is the fruition of a vision to meet the needs of their Māori and non-Māori intellectually disabled community.
“The important question by our disabled people was 'when can we stand on the stage?' like their idols of Te Matatini,” says national IDEA-IHC co-ordinator, Taki Peeke, “So this is a bridge to help them achieve their dreams.”
The second Te Anga Pāua o Aotearoa Kapa Haka Festival will be hosted by IDEA's central region in 2020.