Their haka was loud and proud, and their pukana was wide as 44 school groups celebrated Maori culture for the 25th Ra Whakangahau kapa haka festival.

Hundreds of children celebrated the special birthday edition of the annual two-day festival at Waipuna Park on November 23-24.

The popular cultural event was held mainly for primary school children to perform and celebrate kapa haka.

Welcome Bay School principal Nik House said this year was the first time the event organising had been shared between two schools - Selwyn Ridge Primary School and Welcome Bay School.

Advertisement

House said 44 schools had registered for the special birthday event.

"The festival is about communities coming together. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties ... it is a nice, positive, cultural, community day."

The children performed their kapa haka songs and haka they had been practising all year.

"It is part of our culture and an important part of our bicultural element in New Zealand," he said.

House said the event was MC'd by Aunty Mabel, who had been involved in the competition since it began 25 years ago.

"It is what the Treaty is all about. It is about being able to come together and showcase them as a beautiful part of being New Zealanders."

Mount Maunganui Primary School principal Damien Harris said 80 of the school's senior kapa haka group were performing. The school performed about six different songs and a haka.

Harris said the school had been practising since the beginning of the year.

"For us it is fundamental, it is a piece of our school that we have worked hard to develop. It is part of growing up in New Zealand."

Matua Louis, from Te Puna School, said about 58 pupils had been practising for five weeks. The school performed a medley of waiata and finished with Maori Christmas carols.

He said one of the school's groups competed in a national kapa haka competition about two weeks ago, and today was a chance to share the talent and culture with the whole school.

"We were the first school to begin Ra Whakangahau, so it is cool to be back again."

WHO'S INVOLVED?
- St Mary's Catholic School
- Welcome Bay School
- Selwyn Ridge Primary School
- Tauriko School
- Mount Maunganui Intermediate
- Omokoroa Point School
- Gate Pa School
- Maungatapu School
- Oropi School
- Omokoroa School
- Te Kura O Matapihi
- Brookfield School
- Te Puke Intermediate
- Tauranga Primary School
- Papamoa School
- Bethlehem School
- Fairhaven School
​- Pongakawa School
​- Golden Sands School
- Bethlehem College
- Maketu School
- Te Akau ki Papamoa School
- Matahui School
​- Otumoetai Intermediate
- Te Wharekura o Mauao
- Tauranga Intermediate
- Greenpark School
- Pillans Point School
- Greerton Village School
- ​Te Kura o Tahatai
​- Bellevue School
- Katikati School
- Te Kura Omanu
- Otumoetai Primary School
- Waihi Central Schools
- Paengaroa School
- Tauranga Adventist School
- Arataki School
- Te Kura o Te Moutere o Matakana
- Katikati College
- TKKM o Otepou
- Te Kura o Tutarawananga - Merivale School
​- Matua School
- Te Puna School
- Mount Maunganui Primary School
- St Thomas More Catholic School