Two cultures from different corners of the world collided with a fusion of dance and music at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō in Levin this week.

Muaūpoko iwi extended hospitality to a group from Alaska, performing waiata and haka, before the visitors took their turn to show aspects of their culture through dance and song.

They even encouraged children from local kapa haka groups to join in with their performances and before long the library was filled with laughter and song.

The visiting Alaskan touring party were being hosted by Muaūpoko iwi, who last year sent a group of students to Alaska to take part in an indigenous cross cultural Masters research tour organised by University of Canterbury.


The group received a travel grant to visit New Zealand to learn about Māori education and immersion schools and how Māori were using cultural practices to strengthen community engagement and identity.

The touring Alaskan group of 11 was made of elders, a school principal and university staff.

Muaūpoko Tribal Authority board member Hiona Henare said they had a number of events planned for the tourists.

"It's now time for Muaūpoko to reciprocate the aroha and host our Alaskan brothers and sisters here in Horowhenua," she said.

There were 12 Muaūpoko students enrolled in the university indigenous leadership programme, she said.

Alaskan touring party member Shak Shaani Eesh said they were humbled to be welcomed so warmly and wanted to share their culture with tangata whenua.

"I grew up in the beautiful community of Angoon which is a five-hour boat ride from Juneau, the capital of Alaska," he said.

"I am Kaagwaantaan from the Eagle Nest house in Sitka and my father's people are the I'einedi of Angoon."


"After graduating from college it led me to a position at the Association of Alaska School Boards as a community engagement educator."

"With Alaska being a vast state with many different tribes, we all want the same thing for our kids, so we have to look at trying to build fluidity with all those in our education system."

"The elders travelling with us bring the most knowledge of our old practices."

For most of the group it was their first trip to New Zealand. They were interested in building lasting relationships with tangata whenua so regular visits could be arranged.