Huia Range School is in full fundraising mode to get its kapa haka group to the national competition in Hamilton later in the year.
Seven members of the group performed at a citizenship ceremony in the Tararua District Council chambers on Tuesday when Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis told the audience the group had qualified for the nationals in November.
Huia Range principal Robyn Forsyth said the group qualifying for the nationals after placing fifth out of 18 schools was outstanding, particularly in view of the fact that it was the first time the school had taken part in a regional kapa haka competition.
Dannevirke's Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Tāmaki was placed sixth and also qualified for the nationals.
"We entered more for a bit of practice and wound up coming fifth out of 18 schools. So it's been a real learning curve."
The group is representing the Manawatū region and will be one of 67 schools from across the country taking part in the four-day national competition.
What is unique about the Huia Range group is that it is the only school taking part that is not a kura or a total immersion school.
"Huia Range is classed an English medium school. It has no immersion or bilingual classes."
For this event a kapa haka group must have a minimum of 24 children and a maximum of 40.
"We have 24 children in kapa haka, but I would like to have 30 so we have a couple in reserve," said Forsyth.
A number of tutors, who became involved through the local Rangitane office, are working with the children and they are supported by teachers as well.
Forsyth said the school is not yet sure of the cost of taking part as accommodation arrangements have yet to be finalised. However transport and food costs for the four days will be considerable and parts of the group's uniforms need to be upgraded.
"We do have a fundraising group being led by one of our parents and so far raffles have been run and there will be more of these. The group has also being seeking sponsorship and donations. The Board of Trustees is also providing support and funding."
The kapa haka group that competes in Hamilton will be missing some of the original group members who have moved on to secondary school so for the new group it will be a matter of starting over.
Forsyth said preparing for a national competition was something of a balancing act as the children have to put in a massive effort, but there needs to be a close watch on them so the children don't exhaust themselves.
But she said the benefits of taking part were considerable.
"One thing we have noticed is a change in the children's behaviour through pride in their success. And they develop self-belief and self confidence and that is invaluable."