A group of young Whanganui campers are enjoying bird life and plenty of exercise without ever venturing outdoors.

Summer dance camp at City College has been under way for a week and students are putting in a lot of hard work with tutor Pauline Hiroti to learn a routine that symbolises the movements of the pukeko.

City College deputy principal Val Rooderkerk said Ms Hiroti was completing a degree in dance and had volunteered to run the summer school.

"Pauline's PhD study is about helping students to learn about their whakapapa through dance and Tamehau Rowe is assisting with traditional movements that symbolise native birds," said Mrs Rooderkerk.


Some of the students will begin study at City College this year while others, like 2016 head girl Baillie Edwards, can be described as seasoned performers.

Baillie, along with five other dancers at the camp, gained third place in the national hip hop competitions last year with their group Aotea Empire, as well as performing in kapa haka and drama.

"The students have been incredibly willing to come in and work hard every day to prepare to compete in the national kapa haka Te Matatini festival next month," said Mrs Rooderkerk.

"And there will be a performance in Whanganui when they have finished rehearsals."

Dancers were working through the routine they have choreographed with Ms Hiroti this week and Mr Rowe explained the movements of birds in flight known as manutaki.

Mrs Rooderkerk said it was hoped the extra-curricular work might lead to the formation of a training school for kapa haka modern dance in Whanganui.