SHARE
They're ready . . . Highfield School's kapa haka group has been rehearsing twice a week for Flava Festival later this month. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Twice-weekly rehearsals have been on the schedule for Highfield School’s kapa haka group as it prepares for Flava Festival.

Waiata and haka will ring out from Timaru’s Theatre Royal later on September 20, when the kapa haka festival, Flava, returns to town.

Open to all schools in the Arowhenua rohe (area) – between the Waitaki and Rakaia rivers and westward to the Southern Alps – Flava provides a chance for schools to perform kapa haka to a larger audience.

Poi performances . . . Members of Temuka Primary School’s kapa haka performed at Flava last year. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

Highfield pupil Jett Hurrell (9) said he was looking forward to returning to the stage at Flava for the fourth year.

“I like performing at Flava Festival.”

Another schoolmate said he enjoyed performing the haka because it made him feel “strong”, and Liam Renney (8) gave the same answer.

“I like to do the haka.”

Nine-year-old Xavier Edwards has performed at Flava for three years and enjoyed the cultural connections, as well as entertaining the audience.

“[I like] that it’s my culture.

“[It is a chance] for tamariki and rangatahi to celebrate te ao Maori.”

“[And] performing in front of hundreds of people.”

Meanwhile, Leonay Coetsee (10) most enjoys performing the poi, as well as the social side of Flava.

“I like that we get to do it with our friends.”

Highfield teacher Siobhan Stewart, who leads the kapa haka with Kerryn Hurrell, said the group would have new uniforms this year, and would also perform for the whole school before the festival.

They were also set to host a whanau day so families who could not attend Flava could still see all the hard work the children had been putting in, she said.

Flava will begin at 8.30am with a mihi whakatau (official welcome), so people will need to be seated by 8.25am. Performances begin at 9am.

Winchester waiata . . . Young performers from Winchester Rural School took to the Timaru Theatre Royal stage for Flava Festival last year. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

Organisations involved in planning the event have included Arowhenua Whanau Services, He Manu Hou, representatives from Te Runanga o Arowhenua, the South Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association and WAVE (Wellbeing and Vitality in Education).

South Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association representative Jonathan Young said school groups were “really excited” about the event.

“[It is a chance] for tamariki and rangatahi to celebrate te ao Maori (the world of Maori). It’s a prestigious occasion for performers to stand proud of the culture and their group’s efforts.”

Flava is open to all primary, secondary and tertiary education providers, while its sister event, Korohi o Te Pepi, is the early childhood equivalent, and will be held later this year.

The events have been sponsored by Te Puni Kokiri (the Ministry of Maori Development), Creative Communities NZ, Te Runanga o Arowhenua, Te Runanga o Waihao, Te Aitarakihi Trust, Mid and South Canterbury Community Trust, Arowhenua Whanau Services, He Manu Hou Trust, Alpine Energy and Te Rito.

Flava will be held at the Theatre Royal on Stafford St, Timaru.

A gold coin donation from visitors would be welcomed, organisers say.