ABOUT KAPA HAKA
KAPA: to stand in a row or rank
HAKA: to dance (the dance of Tānerore; the quivering of the air on a hot day)
Kapa haka is commonly used to describe modern day performance of traditional and contemporary Māori song. It is an avenue for Māori people to express their language, culture and heritage through song and dance.
Kapa haka is heavily influenced by traditional forms of Māori pastimes; haka, mau rākau (Māori weaponry), poi (tiny ball attached to rope or string) and mōteatea (traditional chants or dirges).
A modern kapa haka performance can be competitive or non-competitive. It can be performed by any number of people, men and women, young and old.
KAPA HAKA PERFORMANCE
Music for kapa haka is primarily vocal and sung in te reo Māori (Māori language). The musical instruments generally used in kapa haka performances are the guitar, the pūtatara (conch shell), the sound of the poi and rākau and body percussion.
A kapa haka performance is made up of several disciplines.
Waiata Tira: Group dynamic singing used to warm up the vocal cords, example being chorals and hymns.
Whakaeke: A choreographed entrance onto the performance area. Can be used to announce the arrival of the group; pay respects to the host or other groups performing, comment on a social issue of the day, or commemorate an individual or element of Māoridom.
Mōteatea: Usually traditional chants or dirges, sung in a style reminiscent of pre-colonial Māori singing. Mōteatea come in a variety of forms, including laments, lullabies and songs about revenge, anger and love.
Poi: Involves dancers (mostly female), swinging a ball or balls attached to a length of cord. The poi originates from the pre-colonial practice of training with poi to improve agility in battle. Today poi is used to showcase the grace, beauty and allure of the women.
Waiata-a-ringa: Typically referred to as “action songs”, where arm and hand movements particularly the wiri (trembling of hands), the face, the eyes, and the body combine to bring form to the words being sung.
Haka: The war dance or challenge - an aspect of Māori culture embraced by all New Zealanders to become a world renowned expression of New Zealand identity. Modern day haka are vocal performances, involving aggressive or challenging facial expressions, body movements and demeanour.
Whakawātea: A choreographed exit off the performance area. Used to farewell the audience or make a final point before departing.
Other disciplines recognised in modern day competitions include:
Manukura Wāhine and Manukura Tāne Off and on stage, female and male leaders of kapa haka are being asked to take on more modern roles in society where their mana and skills are recognised and accepted.
Kākahu (dress). This discipline recognises the skills of Māori artists and craftsman including weavers, carvers, tuhi kiri, and moko.