Three Rotorua kapa haka performers are representing New Zealand on a tour of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Austria.

The three members of Whakaari Rotorua have, over the past 10 years, travelled to 36 countries but this is a tour of special significance.

It marks the 10 year anniversary of the group, the 25 year anniversary of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and 50 years since the Prague Spring.

Frank Tomas Grapl is leading the tour, with his mum Tuhi Grapl and fellow perform Erueti Haimona and, although he can speak Czech and German, they will also have a translator on the tour with them.


"We are dedicating this tour to John Chadwick and we have received a blessing from Steve to do that, but we'd, of course, like to shout out to our Aunty Bea and all of Ngāti Pikiao," Grapl said.

Frank Grapl and Erueti Haimona from the Whakaari Cultural Group perform overseas. Photo / Supplied
Frank Grapl and Erueti Haimona from the Whakaari Cultural Group perform overseas. Photo / Supplied

The group will be performing at a variety of conferences, ceremonies, lectures and schools across the four countries.

Frank said they would be speaking on behalf of New Zealand and hosting workshops and performances to educate people about New Zealand and Māori culture.

"A lot of these people don't know what a Māori is or what a Māori person looks like.

"They know the All Blacks and the haka, but we are working to also bring to them Māori culture."

They will be performing for the fifth anniversary of the Kiwi/Australian film festival in Prague, a ceremony celebrating 155 years since the first Czechs settled in New Zealand, at the 100 year anniversary of Czechoslovakia and the opening of a New Zealand exhibition in Munich, Germany.

One of the biggest events they will attend is a mass haka in Prague on October 28 where more than 60,000 people are expected to take part.

"It's amazing to do a haka with them, to bring out the spirit of the people, to show them freedom and have their voices heard.


"It gives them some freedom to speak out."

For Grapl, a special part of the trip is retracing the steps of his parents, who made a similar tour 40 years ago.

He is half Czech and half Māori, which he said was not a common mix.

"With Māori and the Czech Republic, there is a strong connection from the days when they landed in Puhoi and there was a Czech village there.

"There is even a connection through Gottfried Lindauer, who was a Czech artist who came to New Zealand and the famous wine brand was then named after him."

The group have fundraised to make the tour possible and have received transport sponsorship form Hyundai Czech Republic, which has supplied a vehicle for the duration of the tour.