Westlake Boys & Girls students debut in top haka Polyfest competition

By Taroi Black

The best of the best of Auckland’s high school haka groups have battled out on stage at the last day of the Polynesian Festival in Manukau. Our reporter Taroi Black spoke to one group standing for the first time in the toughest division of the competition.

Student Greg Haumā, “Everyone is watching you, everyone is focussed on you and it's so different from the other divisions and it's a big step up but I think our rōpū answered the call.”

Most of the performers are non-Maori, learning a new language and culture.

Chinese student Angelina Zhu says, “I tried my best on the stage I couldn't say it was the best time because my voice literally broke because it was my first time on a big stage.”

Last week we featured two performers from USA and Egypt. Today it all paid off. 

American student Sophie Peterson says, “I saw my sister who was sitting on the far left. She loved it so much and crying on stage when we walked on and she really felt it.”

Whatever the outcome the youngsters say they have come out as winners on the day.

“Kapa haka isn't just us as a group it's everyone in New Zealand and worldwide actually.”

Later this year their cultural group will head off to Hawai'i on an exchange. They've teamed up with Māori Broadcaster Pio Terei to help get them there.

Pio Terei says, “I've always come to Polyfest but this particular year The Parenting Place are forming an association of Westlake Boys and Girls High School and they were fantastic today. Our kaupapa is to build awesome whanau and families and these guys want to have an association with us and we're proud to get on board with them.”

The group hopes next year to qualify for the 2020 secondary national kapa haka competition.