Cultural captain and Pasifika leader, John Sali, with the rest of the members from the Super Eight competition. Photo/Paul Taylor.
The Hastings Boys' High School Pasifika group have retained their title for the second year at the Super Eight competition.
Super Eight is a sporting and culture competition between eight central North Island boys' high schools, including Napier and Hastings Boys' High Schools.
The first Pasifika performing arts event was held last year, with the Hastings team Tama Akina winning and mirroring the school's win at the inaugural Kapa Haka event in 2000.
"To win two Super Eight titles back to back is no mean feat. It was pretty special to win the first one [last year] but even more special was to go back and retain their title and win it again," Assistant principal Quentin Crawford said.
"The standard has definitely gotten a lot higher and it was a lot closer, but we still managed to come away with first place."
Crawford said Tama Akina was a vehicle to help students achieve, become young leaders and good men.
"The main focus of [Tama Akina] is to give all Pasifika students an opportunity to express themselves and enjoy success in something that is specifically Pasifika."
He said while their Pasifika students succeeded in other areas of school life, it was important that they offered something that is "uniquely theirs".
"It is Samoan based because it is the biggest ethnic group within our Pasifika students, but other cultures are recognised through performance as well."
Year 9 to 13 boys work together in the group of 25, which helps to guide younger students and grow leadership in seniors. Teaching staff Amani Faioso, Lepani Temo and Tivani Fomai are instrumental in Tama Akina.
It was a pathway for many to explore other types of performance like choir or musicals, but also a way for members to connect with their culture.
The Super Eight performance involves a maximum of 15 students per group presenting a 15-minute programme including an entrance, traditional dances, haka and song.
The students do most of the preparation and direction, with support from teachers who keep an eye on attendance and academic levels which must maintain a certain standard for boys to be part of the group.
In the lead up to the competition, they had been training for hours on end, along with raising funds to attend.
"The biggest thing is that they are having success as Pasifika students in something that's uniquely Pasifika," Crawford said.
Cultural captain and Pasifika leader John Sali said they only had a week and three days to prepare for the competition, as they had been performing elsewhere prior.
"Nowadays the Pasifika events are not as big as they used to be back in the day, so overall it was about celebrating our cultures and coming together as one.
"Tama Akina is not just about slapping and dancing and singing, we have a brotherhood and we have each other's back."
Year 9 student Vikta Tavita said the performance was all about giving back to "our family and our culture".