Four Bay of Plenty schools have qualified to compete at the National Secondary Schools Kapahaka tournament next year.
Twelve school teams from across the Bay took to the stage at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre for the Te Haka a Toi - Mataatua me Tākitimu ki Tauranga Secondary School Regional Kapahaka last Friday.
Te Wharekura o Ruātoki were the overall winners and will represent Mataatua me Tākitimu ki Tauranga Moana at the nationals at Auckland's Spark Arena in 2022.
Other qualifying teams also going to the nationals are Te Wharetoa o te Tahi o te Rangi - Trident High School and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Huiarau, Te Reo Whakakoko o Mauao - Te Wharekura o Mauao and Kura ki Uta - Opotiki College.
The biennial event was hosted by Ngā Kikini o Te Rehutai - the Tauranga Moana Maori Teachers Association, with the executive committee consisting of representatives from across the Mataatua me Tākitimu ki Tauranga region.
The committee was supported this year by the Ngāti Ranginui Iwi Education sector.
Toni Heke-Ririnui, iwi education and mauri ora manager at Ngāti Ranginui Iwi Society, was the event organiser.
She says the event, which has been taking place since the late 1970s under various names of those times and now Te Haka a Toi, provides many benefits to both participating students and the wider community.
"The objective of the event is to immerse our tauira (students) in opportunities to live and showcase their cultural practises so that it is instilled in them for life.
"It brings our people and our wider community together stretching from Katikati of the Western Bay of Plenty to Whangaparaoa of the Eastern Bay of Plenty, to celebrate our culture through Maori performing arts.
"Te Haka a Toi provides countless benefits to our region, including the revitalisation of Te Reo Maori and Maori culture, the promotion of health and wellbeing, and the positivity of interpersonal relationships between whanau, hapu, and iwi within our rohe."
The event was supported through the Kaupapa Maori Legacy Event Fund (KMLEF).
The fund was established by the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust and Tauranga City Council to provide ongoing support to recurring events that celebrate tangata whenua and/or mana whenua, promote and share tikanga Māori and/or bring awareness to events of historical significance for Tauranga Moana Māori.
Toni says the $10,000 in funding received was vital to the success of the event.
"We are grateful to TECT and Tauranga City Council for their financial support which contributed towards the event set up, administration, judges expenses, security and traffic control.
"Te Haka a Toi was a huge success, the funds accessed through our sponsors enabled the committee to turn the QEII shell of a hall into a space that gave mana to the months and months of work our tauira and their tutelage team had put into their brackets."
Manager of venues and events at Tauranga City Council, Nelita Byrne, says the KMLEF provides an opportunity to get funding for events and activities driven by mana whenua that promote and support Māori culture and values.
"The intended outcome is that our community has opportunities to become culturally engaged in genuine and authentic events of historical and cultural significance for Tauranga Moana.
"The Kapahaka Regionals is Mana Whenua driven and involves rangatahi, and is the regional qualifying event for secondary schools and a lead up to Te Matatini for the senior groups. It is a chance to demonstrate the inclusive nature of kapahaka and it was fantastic to see participants of all ages on stage.
"TCC are delighted to be partnering with TECT on the Kaupapa Māori Legacy Event Fund, to support mana whenua events that are important to the cultural identity of Tauranga."
Tauranga City Council and TECT both contributed $30,000 to the Kaupapa Maori Legacy Event Fund this year.
The fund is currently open for applications. To be eligible, events must have been operating for at least one year in Tauranga Moana, have iwi/hapū support and involvement, must be driven by Tangata Whenua, and be run by a not-for-profit organisation.
For more information and for full eligibility criteria, contact Tauranga City Council's Event Development team at firstname.lastname@example.org
To view videos from the Te Haka a Toi - Mataatua me Tākitimu ki Tauranga Secondary School Regional Kapahaka, visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/TaurangaMaoriTeachersAssociation/videos