2021 Corrections Inter-Site Whakataetae Kapa Haka Launch


2021 Corrections Inter-Site Whakataetae Kapa Haka Launch

Arohata Women's Prison,  Tawa

It’s a real privilege to be here this morning to officially launch the 2021 Corrections Inter-Site Whakataetae Kapa Haka Competition.

To the wāhine, I’d like to start by thanking you for your performance this morning.

I know the team here at Arohata came first in the Manukura Wāhine category in last year’s competition, and I can see there’s a lot of talent here at this site.

One of the reasons I am making this announcement here at Arohata is because we are trying to involve more wāhine in this year’s competition – and I know the team here will again put up some fierce competition and set a fine example.

Can I also acknowledge National Commissioner Rachel Leota; Arohata’s Prison Director, Pippa Carey; Assistant Prison Director, Sian McKennie, as well as everyone involved in organising this event. I know it takes a lot of work behind the scenes to bring this together, so thank you for your mahi and manaakitanga.

And of course to the representatives of our mana whenua partners from Ngati Toa and Te Ati Awa – thank you for being here and for your support of what we’re announcing here today.

Kapa haka is a chance to celebrate Māori language, identity and culture.

There's a lot of discipline in kapa haka, there's a lot of teamwork, and learning, and there's a lot of history to what the performances are about.

It’s a path to improve well-being, re-connect with hapū and iwi, and demonstrate dedication, commitment and hard work.

It instils a great sense of pride, mana and achievement, which for many of the participants, might be something they have not experienced for some time.

In July last year, at Hawke’s Bay Prison, I launched the inaugural Corrections kapa haka competition. This focused on nine sites with eight sites participating, including Arohata Prison.

I know this involved a lot of planning - and included discussions with Prison Directors, hui with kapa haka exponents within each rohe, and plans for the creation of taonga by each site that would be donated as the competition’s awards.

The overall winner of the 2020 competition was the team from Waikeria Prison.

In 2020, the inter-site competition had a great positive impact on the relationships between staff, prisoners and all those involved.

It created whanaungatanga within the groups. For example, I’m told that, at Northland Region Corrections Facility, prisoners who had never spoken before due to conflicting gang affiliations developed positive and supportive relationships.

This year the competition is expanding, and all 18 prisons will be invited to participate, as well as staff from Community Corrections sites and iwi under the new title: Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka 2021.

The theme for this year is “Whānau” – a key part of our Hōkai Rangi strategy.

Corrections will partner with kapa haka tutors from the community, iwi and mana whenua to support the participants in their learning and preparation, and to ensure everyone has a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of kapa haka.

This year’s performances and judging will take place in June and July. This gives the teams ample time to prepare, unlike last year when COVID-19 restrictions impacted training and rehearsal time.

The judges will be sourced externally and will be confirmed at a later date. We are looking to engage iwi and other experts to be the judges.

Each site will also create taonga that will be presented to the winners of the different sections.

The announcement of winners is expected to happen in August.

It is my hope that this year’s Kapa Haka competition serves as a great way for men, women and staff to come together and learn something new, connect prisoners to their culture and heritage, and provide a positive environment that may help with rehabilitation.

I look forward to following the progress of all the teams in this year’s competition and seeing some great performances.  

Thank you.