“Anei ahau, a Te Nehenehenui e oreore nei, anei ahau”

The kōwharawhara plant once grew in abundance throughout Te Nehenehenui. Now it is set to grow and be showcased at the National Kapa Haka stage, Te Matatini 2019.

Established in 2017, Ngā Pua o te Kōwhara is one of the newest rōpū on the Tainui kapa haka scene. Making their debut at last year’s Te Nehenehenui Tribal Festival and this year’s Tainui Regional Competition, Ngā Pua o te Kōwhara are thrilled to have qualified fifth, securing a passage into Te Matatini 2019.

The call to home for new and experienced kapa haka members has encouraged a sense of pride to those from Te Nehenehenui. This rōpū aims to promote Maniapototanga, commitment to achieving the highest level and with the support of the family, hapū and iwi, their dreams are being realised.

Lead by an array of experienced kai haka, made up of Walter Tamepo (Ngāti Konohi, Ngāti Wahiao Tuhourangi), Te Aroha Papa (Ngāti Huiao, Ngāti Peehi, Ngāti Te Kanawa) and Layelin Stewart (Ngāti Maniapoto me ōna hapū maha) Ngā Pua o te Kōwhara forged ahead to display a unique style that represented Maniapototanga.

The fruits of labour have finally been rewarded, and co-leader Layelin Stewart acknowledges the support given to the rōpū since its inception.  “Our successes firstly at Te Nehenehenui 2017 and the recent Tainui regionals are largely due to  support we have received from both near and far, the guidance of our tutors and leadership, and of course the dedication of our members.”

Kapa Haka is a performance that celebrates the unique identities as hapū and iwi. Standing on stage with whānau can be an emotional, spiritual, physical and most of all beautiful experience. It was a wonderful touch to see a piece that celebrated Nanaia Mahuta, a prominent Māori figure, who carried out the role of lead negotiator  for Maniapoto me ōna hapū maha within the Treaty Settlement space in 2017.

“Our waiata-ā-ringa was composed by Hēmi Kelly. We loved the fact that it celebrated Nanaia Mahuta, a well respected Ngāti Maniapoto leader. For Ngā Pua o te Kōwhara, Nanaia represents hope, wisdom and courage which is evident in her actions in the settlement and key role played in the development of Te Huatahi – Agreement in Principle, her stance during the elections and recently her dedication to Te Reo Māori in education” says Layelin.

Maniapoto kapa haka is certainly growing and the environment that Ngā Pua o te Kōwhara provide is one that develops and empowers identity through aroha and challenge. The kaitātaki and kaiako are now planning as they look towards the horizon that is Te Matatini.

“A well planned campaign will allow us to test ourselves against the best kapa haka in the world. We have great potential and are excited by the challenge. As we seek to succeed in the competitive arena, we are also dedicated to the inter-generational transmission of our iwi kōrero, tikanga and pukenga. Mā konei pea ka tutuki i te ōhākī a Maniapoto e kī ana, “Whanake.”