Roimata Panapa

Kapa Haka - Te Matatini 2019

Key Info

Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Maniapoto

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Māori Language/Te Reo Māori

Traditionally poi was used for war. Roimata (Ngai Tamanuhiri, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Maniapoto) wants the chance to research how it transformed from a man’s weapon and a military art to a woman’s dance.

Poi is also Roimata’s favourite part of Kapa Haka. Her aim is complete flow, so everything is fluid and extended. “Making your actions quite big. That’s not even the traditional way, where it was used for small, sharp, quick actions, but what I have been taught and like.”

It wasn’t actually Roimata’s choice to do Kapa Haka, it was all around her from a young age at kura and her parents loved watching and supporting Kapa Haka. She says the reason it means so much to her is because it’s her way of sharing knowledge and culture. “Other people show it through history, or essays, but I love being practical, and this is the practical way of showing who I am.”

At high school, Roimata chose Kapa Haka over sports like netball and she is now performing with her family group, Tu Te Manawa Maurea, who she first stood with at Koroneihana when she was seven years old.  “I am a competitive person by nature but my family group’s focus is about sharing our stories of Rongowhakaata. That’s our main kaupapa, but when you’re young sometimes you don’t always understand that, winning is everything lol. That is not the main drive in our group but don’t get me wrong, it’s still really important.”

How about Haka drama?

Roimata says that in high school, all she had to do was listen to her teachers, get on the floor and perform. She didn’t have to worry about any of the logistics or other big issues. “Once you get to adult groups, there are things like commitment off the floor, jobs to help the whole group and family relationships to consider. There’s drama at times because it’s a big group of people with differences of opinion and differences in values or the way you were brought up. But this is in any Kapa Haka group I reckon; if they say there isn’t I’d be surprised. At times Haka drama makes you feel a bit over it, plus for me the travelling gets tiring. But the best thing now that I’m here at varsity, is that it takes me and my older sister Maioha home every week to see our whole whanau and our little sister! Doing with this with my big sister is great too as she gives me a lot of confidence and support. At the end of the day it’s about getting to Te Matatini. Once you get up there on the stage it is all worth it.”

Who is your Kapa Haka idol?

Te Wairere Ngaia, Piata Waitai.

What is your favourite item of the bracket?


What is one piece of advice you would give to a new student coming to UoW who does Kapa Haka?

In my first year of uni, I was scared I couldn’t handle the workload, so I didn’t compete in Kapa Haka. But now I really regret it. I did take the Kapa Haka paper (MAOR157). That was interesting, because coming to university I am now learning with people who were once my rivals in different kura groups. That was the beauty of the paper, I got to perform with people who were once my competitors. I should have joined Te Waiora, and I know I could have done so much more. You have to have that type of balance with your study but don’t sacrifice what is part of your everyday life.

How do you keep Haka-fit?

You could be the fittest athlete in the world, but when you stand on the floor for eight hours straight singing and moving around, stamina is the most important thing. I try to combine things like exercise, while saying my words. It’s that combination that is hard moving and singing, your breathing is really important. I’m still learning how to do that properly.

Some people drink energy drinks but my hack is vitamin C tablets now. They give me a boost and help me out, but managing my voice has always been hard, trying to sing top drops when your voice is gone, week after week. That’s a challenge.

Competing: Friday 22 February - 12th.

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