Since my arrival in New Zealand I was thinking about joining Kapa Haka, but I definitely made up my mind when I went to the Matatini 2019 on the 22nd of February.

Seeing those people, their emotions, their courage and their motivation opened my eyes. “If I am in New Zealand, I’ll try new experiences and go on new journeys that I wouldn’t do back home” was my thought. And so, it was. The next term we started with the Nohos (the practices over the weekends). We were sleeping at school from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

In the beginning it was easy and we just learned words, the difficulty increased with every weekend, moves were added to the words. But thanks to our Marae, to the Hineakau and to the people in the kitchen we felt like we were at home. I even gained 4kg because of how good the food was!

And so, after 10 weekends of commitment, fun, activities and practice, we had it. We had our bracket. We learnt the words and the moves of every item in our bracket and at the end it was me, with my group; with my whanau, to stand in front of judges and spectators on a stage. One full-on top-drop. That was one of the best moments in my life. I wasn’t thinking, I was just moving. I had memorised every move and every word. Everyone was working and moving together. I was in my present; I didn’t care about the crowd cheering and applauding. It was me, my ihi and the floor.

But it was in the days after the performance that I really understood what it meant to do Kapa Haka. Kapa Haka is not a show. Kapa Haka is a way of living, a way on which through perseverance and commitment everyone is able to find him-/herself. Kapa Haka is the powerful glue that binds together people from different cultures and backgrounds and makes them feel safe, as part of a bigger family.

So, even if not all the journey was easy and although I had my difficulties, I don’t even imagine to regret the choice I made on that 22nd of February. Kapa Haka let me grow and taught me respect, commitment, humility, history and many other things.

Therefore:  Nga mihi nui “Te whanau a Taraika”, Nga mihi nui Matua Shane, Matua Baden me Whaharangi, Nga mihi nui Whaea Char, Whaea Suz me Whaea Anna. Kia ora katoa.