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Waiatatia Performance – InterCouncil Sports Day

Our Waiatatia group had the pleasure of performing at the InterCouncil Sports Day held at the Events Centre on the weekend. The sports day is an annual social event for all councils around NZ who wish to attend. This year (for the first time), the event was held in the South Island.

This performance was probably one of our best yet. Not only were we well rehearsed and ready to perform, but the crowd was also very appreciative of our efforts and felt the need to cheer us on and sing along with us too.

This was also our first opportunity to perform our new waiata-a-ringa (action song) Ko te Waipounamu, which I thought, as an unbiased observer, we totally hit out of the park.

After a debrief at Joe’s Garage, which is becoming a regular after performance spot, we all headed home buzzing from a great night out.

Waiatatia performance – 3 lakes cultural trust opening

Last Friday we were offered the opportunity to open proceedings at the Three Lakes Cultural Trust Opening at Five Mile. Attended by the who’s who of Queenstown, this was a nervous performance for our group since we were not able to attend in our normal large numbers. However, those of us who did attend, did an amazing job as always. This was backed up by the raucous applause we received and the fantastic feedback from those in attendance.

Once again the Waiatatia crew pulled it out of the bag and proved that even at short notice we can pull a great performance together.

Mau Rākau grading

This past weekend I traveled to Christchurch to support a friend who graded in the Māori weaponry art-form called Mau Rākau (wielding weapons).

The grading itself is very physically and emotionally exhausting. It actually starts the evening before where the instructors check that every person grading has the ability required to complete their grading level. For this particular grading, levels 2 – 5 were being graded. Level 8 is the highest level of the art and the few that make it this far, will take upwards of 10 years to reach that level, the majority of practitioners never reach level 8. It is a level only achievable for only the most disciplined physically, emotionally and culturally.

My friend who graded, was level 3. His grading consisted of a verification session of his suitability the night before, around 4 hours. After a few hours sleep, the actual grading begins at 6am. The process for all grading is that everyone who grades (regardless of level) completes Level 1, then level 2, then level 3.. and so on. As each person completes their level of grading, they stop and the other levels continue until all graded levels are completed.

Along the way, there are many reasons for failure. The instructors prefer to reject people at the earliest stage, hence why the verification session is the most important. Its the point where the lack of correct technique may result in being “sat down” or failed. Once grading has started, generally the instructors will do all they can to guide everyone to a pass. However, in some instances, the will required to continue is with the individual.

In my personal experience of grading (I have graded to level 2), fatigue was the hardest thing to overcome. Exhaustion makes it extremely difficult to complete simple techniques let alone the complex ones required for grading. Instructors never give a free pass. They will encourage, but they never settle for anything less than the requirement of the level. For this reason, many failures will be due to the individual being unable to continue. It could be physical or emotional exhaustion or even injury.

I am happy to say that after 9 hours of grading and then a 10km run afterwards, my friend successfully passed his level 4 grading. After many years at level 3, it was so satisfying to see him presented with his white tīpare (headband) to signify successful completion of Level 4.

SIT Wānanga


Today was one of the many Wānanga attended by students enrolled in the Te Ara Reo Māori course with SIT. This Wānanga was held at the Arrowtown Community Centre, a fantastic public facility.

There are over 60 students currently enrolled in the 2019 second semester Te Ara Reo Māori Level 1 and 2 course. There are over 60 students currently enrolled in the 2020 first semester Te Ara Reo Māori Level 1 and 2 course. Thats over 120 students in the Wakatipu region currently enrolled in the beginner Te Reo class. Miharo!

Part of the course requirement is to attend a number of day long wānanga where all classes combine together for a full day of learning, laughing, singing and doing group exercises. In this particular wānanga the students were put into 5 groups and challenged to come up with a skit where each student says sentence patterns learned so far this year. The level of ability shown for a beginner group was absolutely outstanding. This is a testament to their kaiako Ebony Webster. Fantastic job by both students and kaiako.