Students perform at Turangawaewae Regatta

Students perform at Turangawaewae Regatta

12 April 2024

Te Kokoru Thompson-Evans, Millicent Whetu, Lachyn Moeke, Caitlyn Hape (Year 12s), and Jake Wickham (Year 9) united with the Te Maurea Whiritoi group to perform at the Ngāruawāhia Regatta alongside students from Hamilton Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools.

The Regatta is based at the Turangawaewae Marae and is attended by Maaori King Tuheitia Te Wherowhero VII. The Regatta began in 1895 and is an important annual celebration of kuapapa Maaori. More than 20.000 people attend and participate in watching or participating in performances and whanau activities.

This golden opportunity to be the first St Paul’s students to participate came their way merely a month prior to the performance when they were invited to join with kapa haka group Te Maurea Whiritoi. Within this fleeting timeframe, the students diligently mastered the song and choreography for one waiata tira (welcome song), three waiata aa-ringa (action songs), a poi performance, a whakawhiti, and a haka.

Intense rehearsals began on Monday afternoons at school, with St Paul’s students devoting themselves to practice sessions and then on weekends they joined alongside their counterparts from other schools. Their dedication paid off when they attended the Regatta for a truly memorable occasion. Reflecting on their experience, one student expressed gratitude, remarking, “I feel grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the experience.” Another conveyed a sense of accomplishment saying, “I can’t describe how I felt, but I just felt like I had accomplished something, like I was fulfilled.”

Acknowledging the invaluable support they received, the students credited Whaea Puhi for her role in connecting them with the Te Maurea Whiritoi group and guiding them through the learning process. They also acknowledged Matua Lamoni, Pane o Te Tari Reo Maaori, for his cheerleading. Matua Wairua Pritchard (Assistant Tutor) also shared his knowledge and experience with students which built their confidence and skill set in kapa haka.

“The hours were worth it, and we can’t wait to do it again next year,” they declared with enthusiasm.