Waitangi haka aims for world record

By Peter de Graaf

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If three days of festivities, music and debate isn't enough for you, how about a world-record haka attempt?

The "Haka for Life", a fun event with a serious message, will take place at the Treaty Grounds on Waitangi Day in a bid to set a new record while spreading the word on suicide prevention.

Organiser Anaru Barton said the number to beat was 3264, the current record for a mass haka set in 2008 at Ngaruawahia's Hopuhopu Sports Complex.

But with more than 20,000 people expected at Waitangi on February 6, he said anyone taking part on Wednesday stood a good chance of being part of a world record. Mr Barton had been inspired to get involved in suicide prevention because of the huge impact it had had on his own life.

"Northland has one of the highest rates of suicide in New Zealand, along with Kawerau and my hometown of Whakatane ... It's really important to get the message out there. We want people to turn up with their feelings about suicide, and to perform the haka with a message of love and support for each other."

Mr Barton said February 6 was a good day to address the problem of suicide in New Zealand because it was such an important day on the national calendar.

Waitangi National Trust cultural performance manager Mori Rapana said he expected about 20,000 people at Waitangi this year, a drop from previous years because the holiday fell on a Wednesday.

The mass haka will take place at 12.30pm near the flagpole at the Treaty Grounds. It will be performed twice.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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