A group of Tauranga schoolgirls has breathed new life into a historic battle with modern dance.

Four small groups of Tauranga Girls' College students performed dances they choreographed to Gate Pa School last week. .

Each dance was created based on a particular aspect of the Battle of Gate Pa that the students felt they could express. Loren Wilson-Innes, 16, said she and the others in her group, Michaela Bowen, Brittany Spencer and Tyler Nitschke, tried to convey how the Maori warriors were feeling during the battle.

There were moments in their dance when they focused on the anger of the Maori people and the contrast of sad and sorrowful moments. "We chose instrumental, tribal-type music which kind of mimics the Maori powhiri (welcome)."


She said some of the movements mimicked the motions of the warriors.

Caroline Gill, head of performing arts at the college, said the four groups of girls had choreographed the dances for an NCEA Level 2 assessment.

"This term they've been learning about the choreographic processes and how to create dances. They were asked to take an aspect, idea or image they were particularly interested in then as a group had to choreograph a one to two-minute dance to reflect that."

The girls would be marked on how well they conveyed their particular idea, Miss Gill said.

"We're hoping to get to a few more schools next term. We're not re-enacting the battle but taking an aspect that perhaps people haven't thought about and conveying the movement."

All of the groups used contemporary dance, although some also incorporated kapa haka movements, Miss Gill said.