Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Whangaraa win kapahaka

A relatively young team based in the settlement known to thousands of people from the film Whale Rider has taken out this year’s Te Matatini kapa haka champion's trophy.

Whangaraa mai Tawhiti saw off top Auckland team Te Waka Huia and four Bay of Plenty teams including defending champions Te Whanau a Apanui.

Waatea news reporter Julian Wilcox says Whangaraa is tutored by noted Gisborne artist Derek Lardelli, whose compositions on themes such as the Maori contribution to Gallipoli inspired his performers.

“They were so crisp and fluid and tight. They covered the whole stage, and I think it all came together and got them over the line. They will be so stoked and they deserve every plaudit they get,” Mr Wilcox says.

Te Waka Huia was runner up for the 4th time in a row, followed by Opotiki Mai Tawhiti.

PRESCHOOL INQUIRY WELCOMED

New Zealand MP Pita Paraone says an inquiry by the Maori Affairs select committee into Maori participation in pre school education will be an opportunity to look into the root causes of Maori under-achievement.

Mr Paraone says a lot of the recent focus has been into Maori children leaving secondary school with no qualifications.

He says the problems may start a lot earlier.

“Is it because education at a pre-school stage isn’t sufficient or isn’t meeting the demands of what’s required to get our people through the the system successfully? So the intent of the inquiry is to explore those issues and hopefully provide a blueprint for better participation,” Mr Paraone says.

WHAKAWAATEA FOR UNITEC HOUSE SITE

In Auckland about now a whakawaatea ceremony is starting to spiritually clear the land for Unitec's new marae.

A team led by master carver Lyonel Grant has been working on the project for almost four years, and contractors will today start laying the foundations for the wharenui.

From the air the marae and associated landscaping will be built in the shape of a manaia, encompassing the polytechnic's Maori studies department.

Mr Grant says he has gone back to early construction techniques, where elements like poupou or columns will do the job they are named for, rather than being bolted to a pre-built shell.

“Without our carving the wharenui won’t be because those are the structural elements of the whare. We’re not just going to inherit a box and stick the carvings in it.

The carvings are literally the mana of the house,” Mr Grant says.

Unitec has so far raised about three million of the five million needed for the project from the ASB Community Trust, gambling trusts and its own resources.

FOCUS SHIFTS TO MATAATUA

All four kapahaka teams from the Bay of Plenty won through to the finals of the national competitions this weekend, but failed to take away the supreme award.

That went to Whangaraa mai Tawhiti, from just north of Gisborne, a relatively new team coached by artist Derek Lardelli.

Waatea News reporter Julian Wilcox says with the next Te Matatini in Tauranga in two years time, and they'll be aiming for a home win.

“Mataatua have taken up that challenge, and what better way to kick off that challenge than to have all the four groups which came through from your regional competitions make the top six. It says a heck of a lot about the standard and caliber of performance in Mataatua,” Mr Wilcox says.

There was some disappointment for supporters of Te Waka Huia, the Auckland team coached by kapa haka veterans Nan and Bub Wehi, which had to settle for second place for the fourth time in a row.

EDUCATION INQUIRY COULD IMPROVE OUTCOMES

Maori Party education spokesperson Te Ururoa Flavell says the latest inquiry into education has the potential to improve outcomes for Maori.

Despite the failure of previous such inquiries to influence Education
Ministry policy, the Maori affairs select committee wants to look at Maori participation in the early childhood sector.

Mr Flavell says particular areas of concern for Maori are numeracy, literacy and funding for Kohanga Reo.

“I think it's a good move to have a look at the funding and the inequalities in terms of the early childhood sector and we hope that it comes up with some solid recommendations that can be built on and not simply build a report to be put in the cupboard,” Mr Flavell says.

TAGGERS TAUGHT TO TAKE PRIDE IN ART

Christchurch City Council is finding success with project aimed at encouraging taggers and graffiti artists to use their talents more productively.

Project Legit manager Miriama McDonald says the majority of taggers in the city tend to be Maori, while graffiti artists are more often Pakeha.

Ms McDonald says youth workers teach taggers the the history of graffiti art and its role in hip hop culture and find them spaces to practice their skills.

She says they try to make taggers aware of how their activities affect people.

“We find that they don’t actually realise that, and actually end up feeling quite upset at the fact they may have upset someone of an older generation. Just by not thinking abut tagging on a tree or someone’s fence or they might have to go out there and paint over it. And we do find that we have success that they need to have a little bit more respect for their own community and those around them,” Ms McDonald says.

Many taggers go on to study art at tertiary level.

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