Tamihana Katene (Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngāti Tama, Te Taoū – Ngāti Whātua) is the leader/tutor of Ngāti Pōneke Young Māori Club Kapa Haka group. He wrote this powerful haka for the group to perform at the 2016 Wellington Regional Kapa Haka Championships or Haka in the Park, at Te Whiti Park Waiwhetu (30 January, 2016).
Tamihana says that he was ‘wearing his heart on his sleeve’ when he wrote this haka (read the lyrics). Here, he explains why.
“Our haka ‘He Mate Tā te Waiponapona’ is an expression of frustration concerning the state of our society’s most vulnerable members. It is a challenge of defiance in the face of the status quo.
“The messages it carries are that we as a society ‘say’ that we protect our children, that we care for and nurture our grandchildren and that we uphold the prestige and respect for our wāhine (women).
“Yet that is all lip service – our babies are still being beaten and killed, domestic violence is still rampant. Full are our prisons because of hearts that feel nothing but anger, full are our hospitals with children that are a result of domestic violence, full are our urupā (cemeteries) because of suicide. Like a plague these things sit in the hidden places of our societies and eat us from the inside out. When touched by this sickness our children are the ones that suffer. Their hearts are emptied of hope and anger and despair settles there. This is how the cycle continues.
“And amongst all the turmoil, the solution is clear. Patua te ngoikore, patua te wahangu, patua te rewharewha e te aroha e!
“Love will beat back the weakness of will, love will beat back the silence that allows our people to suffer, and love will conquer this sickness that affects us so. This is our message. Tihei Mauri Ora!”