Te Maori: Kapa haka teams switch tack

By Dana Kinita

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Ngati Rangiwewehi kapa haka members Jojo Waaka, Rauroha Clarke and Arohaina Waaka are all part of the national Wero, stop smoking competition.Photo/Stephen Parker
Ngati Rangiwewehi kapa haka members Jojo Waaka, Rauroha Clarke and Arohaina Waaka are all part of the national Wero, stop smoking competition.Photo/Stephen Parker

Rotorua marae and kapa haka teams are giving up smoking and taking on the challenge to live healthier for the next generation.

Ngati Rangiwewehi roopu is taking part in Wero - the national stop-smoking competition which runs for three months from March 1. Each waka (team) consist of 10 smokers who will compete to win $5000 for a charity of their choice. Each team appoints a non-smoking coach and has access to a support worker and patches.

Team coach Jojo Waaka said they were able to keep motivated as a whanau.

"We're having a lot of wananaga leading up to the regionals and before it used be each time we had a break they would go outside for a smoke," Miss Waaka said.

"Now when it comes to a break they go for a walk instead of having a smoke. We've had quite cool support from the whole group, when we decided to take part everyone sat in and discussed it."

Miss Waaka said it was challenging for some members who had been smoking from as young as 11.

As a coach it's about being there for them 24-7, they can ring me up if they're feeling like a smoke. It's about just helping and reassuring them that there is options there like patches and gum.

"My sister is part of the group and our family have made the decision as a whole to stop smoking to make it easier on her."

Ngati Rangiwewehi also wanted to lead by example for the next generation.

"Everyone brings their kids to practice and they look to us as role models so we are doing it for them. We want to be a good example for our own hapu and ensure our kids are smokefree.

"On stage it will be wonderful to all be smokefree, it will help us with our breathing and singing so we want anything that will give us the advantage to win the regionals."

Owhata Marae is also taking on the challenge registering two teams, 20 people, who are determined to quit smoking. The group is called Koroua Teka and spokeswoman June Parata said they had been smokefree for the three weeks the competition had been running with the help of weekly meetings, patches and lozenges.

"One of the main reasons is one of our kaumatua Paraone Pirika has been a long advocate for a healthy lifestyle and we know he is right and we all want to be role models for the next generation," Ms Parata said.

"We have two teams, one is with 45-year-olds and over and the other is mainly younger people," she said.

"I personally have been smoking since my mid 20s and I'm now 51 and we have another lady who started when she was 14 who is now 50 so we've been long-time smokers. But we're doing this together, getting along more and what's been awesome is for the last three weeks myself and all others have had an extra $60-$70 in our pockets."

Ms Parata said they were receiving support from Korowai Aroha and Tipu Ora.

"We think different now, each time we've felt the urge, you force yourself to think about something else. Some of us are determined to do it for the next generation, we want to heal our bodies and I want to be here to be able to see my grandchildren be born and grow up."

Toia Lucas-Walden of Korowai Aroha is the regional co-ordinator for Wero for Te Arawa, Tuwharetoa and Kawerau region. The competition is open to everyone not just Maori. Mrs Lucas-Walden is now recruiting for the next challenge in June. Any teams interested can contact her on (07) 348 8454 extension 237 or email, Toia@korowai.org.nz.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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