Mirihana Patu: Patu, who is studying a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching, will perform with kapa haka group Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri.
Two Waikato University students are gearing up for this year’s national kapa haka competition, Te Matatini, being held at Wai o Hika Estate in Gisborne this week.
The university is a strategic partner in the biennial event which involves more than 1500 performers from 13 regions across New Zealand and Australia.
Mirihana Patu from Taranaki and Huni Strickland from Tokoroa will be performing for the kapa haka group Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri, which is representing the Tainui region at the competition.
Patu, who is studying a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching, was approached to join the group while she was in Te Tohu Paetahi – a Waikato University programme that allowed her to complete her degree through the medium of Te Reo Māori.
“Having just moved from Taranaki, I considered joining the kapa haka group for many reasons; to support the Kīngitanga on behalf of my people, to be exposed to Tainui history, reo and tikanga and to uphold my own reo and tikanga,” says Patu.
Training for the event doesn’t come easy as hours of preparation are needed to increase mental and physical fitness for the stage. During the last few months the women have spent their weekends practising, and Patu has also included gym, zumba, boxing, karate and a healthy diet into her regime.
Patu and Strickland attribute their dedication to their passion for kapa haka and the aroha they have for their group. “The weekend long practices weren’t a problem because we were surrounded by the people we love being with,” says Strickland.
Huni Strickland: Strickland, completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Māori Media and Communication, believes kapa haka complements her studies.
Both students have found balancing study and kapa haka challenging but rewarding. Strickland, who is completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Māori Media and Communication, found that kapa haka practice complemented her study.
“Gaining experience and knowledge through Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri helped me to excel while studying kapa haka at university.”
The pair say they are looking forward to performing their bracket on stage in Gisborne. “I hope we make our tūpuna proud especially Te Puea and do it justice for our King and the people of Tainui,” says Patu.
Te Matatini takes place February 17-20. Meanwhile, Waikato University has the highest proportion of Māori students and graduates of all universities in New Zealand.
Although the university year begins on February 28 there are still opportunities for late enrolment for A semester. B semester courses begin in July.
See the University of Waikato at Te Matatini o te Ra 2011.