Videos of traditional kākahu transformations lift spirits during isolation

updated By Jessica Tyson

Online videos of indigenous people transforming into their traditional kākahu are lifting the spirits of others all around the world during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The transformation or “switch up” videos were first started by Native American wāhine and have inspired Māori to do the same.

One video showcasing wāhine wearing kākahu Māori was posted to Facebook by Christina Looker of Te Rōpū Kapa Haka o Muriwhenua. In the video, wāhine from various kapa haka transform from wearing their casual clothes to their full kapa haka costume.

“Initially it was for a few wāhine from up home, and then the group became bigger. There were so many wāhine willing and keen to be part of it but unfortunately, their kākahu were in another bubble in Aotearoa or were with their club.”

Looker says it was a great way to bring the wāhine together.

“It went from being something spontaneous to building new relationships with wāhine who share the same love for Haka. I mean, why not uplift the wairua of our people during this time, and who doesn’t like dressing up?”

Looker says the most fun part was trying to organise the individual filming.

“It was a toss-up between a landscape view or a portrait one, then having to re-film a video because someone’s brush was being thrown the wrong way or the other person didn’t catch it from the right direction, she says.

“But what topped it off is all the wāhine who were involved in the video or even just in the discussion were really supportive of one another.”

Another video was posted to Facebook by Tūhoe, Te Arawa and Te Whakatōhea māmā Manurere McGarvey of her daughters Te Maungārongo, Te Rongoāio and Te Wai Aroha.

“My partners' aunty Iri shared a video of the Powwow Pretties doing the same in their indigenous kākahu and we thought it would be fun to do with our girls,” McGarvey says.

“It was also to celebrate the end of our eldest girls, Te Maungārongos', self-isolation as she had returned from Brisbane two weeks prior and yesterday marked the end of that, and the beginning of her joining our bubble. Kua piritahi anō mātau.”

McGarvey says the comments they have received from the video have all been "beautiful and positive". 

"We encourage other whānau to follow suit if they wish to, it’s a fun activity together as a whānau.”

Shayz Primeaux from Montana, USA posted a video of her nieces dressing in their traditional wear.

The video has been shared all around the world and received more than 60,000 reactions on Facebook.

"My niece Jayda seen her auntie Tanisha do a video like this and wanted to do one as well ... we asked her cousins if they wanted to help her make one and they all agreed," Primeaux wrote in the post.

"Thanks to her cousins for being a part of this! We hope you enjoy, Jayda had so much fun with this video!"