Chyna-Maree | Johnsonville, Wellington

“The last time I felt proud was this year in late-March. We had a kapa haka competition, and I had the privilege of leading a senior group.

That was one of the hardest moments for me, but it was one of the proudest moments. It was not easy, and I think the hardest part was trying to write songs, lead and tutor at the time, but that’s why I’m pretty proud of myself for doing that.

So the majority of the bracket I wrote myself. I composed and I put the tune to, and I also did the actions. Our bracket was about Ngāti Pōneke. So, that’s the kapa haka group that I perform for. We’re the first kapa haka group that was ever created, all the way from 1937. The whole group is made up of our whānau, so my partner’s whānau and Shawnee’s, which is the Ormsby whānau. Everyone in it is pretty much a part of the whānau. Our bracket was about Ngāti Pōneke and how long we’ve been here for. Most of our songs were tributes to all of the old members. 

Kapa haka is who I am. That’s what I do. That’s what I breathe. That’s what I eat. That’s what I live for every day. That’s just me, kapa haka. That’s my favourite thing to do, because it’s who I am.

I grew up in Porirua, with my mum and my dad for a little bit, and when I was eight, they had split up, and I lived with my mum and her partner, and it was a very abusive relationship for a long time. Right up until I was about 17, like two years ago, it was stopped. The abuse was stopped. I think family is the one thing I value the most. They’ve just always been there the whole time. 

Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. Just worry about yourself. A lot of people have that problem where they think people are judging them for every little thing they’re doing, and that’s why they’re shy or that’s why they have anxiety about doing things. The only person that you should make happy is yourself. 

For me, kapa haka lets me bring out my anger. It lets me bring out how happy I am. So, every time I’m in a haka, I’m like hundies because I’m angry. That lets me take out all my anger, so I don’t need to take it out anywhere else. I just take it all out on the stage, and once I’m done, it just stays there. So, it’s a way to let all my emotions out, in a good way, for everyone else to see. I love it so much. People call me a haka freak. Like, you could give me one year, any year, any region, and I will know a song, or I’ll know a poi from that group, or I’ll know a group from there. Anything.

This song is from Te Whānau-ā-Apanui from 2011 for their Waiata Tira.

Takoto rawa iho I te pō roa e

Ka mahara ahau e

Te tapu i a koe

Nō te toi o ngā rangi

Nō te hā o te atua e”

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