Iconic kapahaka festival opens

More than 40 schools from throughout Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty will perform in the festival. Supplied photo.

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A unique kapahaka festival held especially for primary school children is celebrating its 25th year in the Bay this week.

Young talent from around the region continues on stage today for day two of Ra Whakangahau, an annual festival where school children perform and celebrate kapahaka. 

The event provides an opportunity for whanau, friends and the wider community to come together, embrace Maori culture and be entertained.

The non-competitive, free event, started back in 1992 with several schools participating, and has now grown to feature more than 40 schools from throughout Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.

This year's event is hosted by Welcome Bay and Selwyn Ridge Schools at Waipuna Park. In day one of the festivities twenty four schools today performed including a performance by a combined group made up from its hosts.

Organiser Rahera Ormsby says the first day was fantastic.

“Ra Whakangahau is all about participation,” she says. “All tamariki performed to the best of their ability and for a lot of them it was their first time on stage, they were happy and excited to sing songs from Tauranga Moana and perform kapahaka for their whanau.

“You could sense the pride in the parents watching their tamariki perform kapahaka on stage and children were definitely excited getting off stage as well.

“I think the day went beautiful and I'm expecting tomorrow will be just as great.”

She says the biggest benefit of the event is way it brings the community together.

“This year we had three new schools participating,” says Rahera. “Every time there's a new school it brings more members of their own school community with them.”

The event wraps up today with its final performances from more than 20 schools.


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