Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Konohi, Waikato-Maniapoto
- Bachelor of Arts
- Master of Arts
- Māori Language/Te Reo Māori
Khaysharn (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Konohi, Waikato-Maniapoto) brings a little Kapa Haka to life everytime he talks, using his hands to communicate along with his reo. The masters student is performing with Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti, and already has three Te Matatini under his belt.
Sometimes people see Kapa Haka as a job or something to do. But it is more than that; for Khaysharn it is a life. “We’ve been brought up with Kapa Haka, and we don’t know anything other than that. We’ve been in it, around it, behind it. It’s another part of us. I use Kapa Haka as a vehicle to drive me through life. I would be lost without it, and wouldn’t know how to hold myself.”
It’s not just standing and performing. Khaysharn says it's the techniques of singing, and how to work together. “It’s maths, it’s choreography, it’s creativity and knowing how to talk to people, how to bring people together. It’s making people believe what you can see in your head. Not just the 40 people on stage, but to see the picture you are trying to create for them. It’s everything you learn, and with it comes the responsibility to know your routine before practice so you’re not putting a burden on your team. All those kinds of things.”
Khaysharn’s first memory of Kapa Haka is a telling one. “My piupiu fell off. I was only a baby. But I picked it back up and carried on. It was because we were brought up not to be ashamed or shy about what we do. What I learned from that was to do your own piu! There was a big learning curve there. There’s always a learning curve in haka that you can apply to other parts of your life.”
For a male perspective on Kapa Haka, Khaysharn says if anything, they’re reliant on their women. “Because they are at the forefront for 95% of the bracket. We are the energy box, we stand behind them as their pillars while they produce the face of what we want to say. If anything it’s kudos to the women, as they do most of the work, and we just push from the back and feed the energy to them. They play a huge roll in our success.”
Who is your Kapa Haka idol?
What is your favourite item of the bracket?
Moteatea, because it is one of the most traditional items, untouched by a colonised setting and aligning with Haka. Tira, because it’s more of an expression of yourself, from deep within.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a new student coming to UoW who does Kapa Haka?
Be open-minded. Be open to everything, allow everything to come, and don’t think you know everything. Kapa Haka has a place everywhere. Because it’s maths, it’s science, it’s poetry. When I arrived at the University of Waikato from Gisborne it really opened my eyes. I was making connections with more than just people I’m comfortable with. I didn’t have any Pākehā mates, then I stayed at Bryant Hall, and I had 26 of them! And I still have a good relationship with them all today. So it’s about opening yourself up to different things and people.
How do you keep Haka-fit?
I think repetition has a lot to do with it. Going over things, so your body molds to how you’re moving. You can run all you like, but can you run and sing? You can sing all you like, but can you run around at the same time? They go together for us. The 25 minute bracket you see on stage is only a tiny fraction of the work that’s gone in behind it. We go over a song maybe fifty times, before you get to that one performance on stage. So repetition has a pivotal role. We train under the sun everyday. We’re based in Gisborne, and the temperature can be 32 degrees. But we train under the sun like we’re practicing in the shade. And we train in the heat so our bodies are immune to it. That has a lot to do with our mentality as well. We could do ten haka under a hot sun, then we go to dinner and afterwards our tutor brings out the floodlights to keep practicing!
Competing: Friday 22 February - 13th.