What does NKTT & kapa haka mean to Maori in Australia?

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What this means is that a question has been asked as to the validity and popularity of NKTT as the entity to operate kapa haka in Australia. The replies, conversations, phone calls and emails have overwhelmingly shown that this organization has been found wanting. That there are serious concerns in Maori community around Australia and New Zealand regarding how kapa haka is run in Australia was also established.

It is now up to the groups, the performers and the general interested public to use their voices and make suggestions as to what they think should be happen next and how kapa haka should be administered in Australia.

I can see no good coming from airing grievances without making suggestions as to what is the more appropriate model to support kapa haka. This is the opportunity for people to come out and put constructive discussion together and move towards a solution that everyone is comfortable with remembering that not everyone will be entirely happy but that not everyone needs to be unhappy as is what seems to be the case currently.

Maori in all of the areas where kapa haka is active have been discussing this issue. As time moves forward I am aware that NKTT still have not announced a location for the next competition. However after announcing some weeks ago that they were 95% certain of making that announcement, they would be in negotiation the same way they negotiated with NSW. That being said, that does not necessarily mean that this will go ahead as planned. No one needs to be dictated to.

An important aspect to consider is that the committee are implemented to represent the view of the people not to dictate to members what they must or must not be doing. Far too long this has been the case. The groups, performers and public are the people who state what they want and the committee go ahead and facilitate this.

It is understandable that all performers want to do is be able to perform and that is great but at what cost to them or the future of kapa haka for our kids? Personally, I would want to see that the art form has a healthy future not one that is continuously under threat every two years of being locked in contest with in each region over matters such as constitutions, contracts, costs and liability. As people can see from the discussions that have taken place, this has happened in ACT, QLD, VIC and NSW and really just needs to stop.

It was hoped that WA could be spared the turmoil and resolve the issue by making this subject public as soon as the groups returned from Te Matatini. I’m not certain that this has been achieved however having been a member of a committee and experiencing the turmoil, I felt it an obligation to ensure that no other group go through the same treatment. Although our committee were unable to host the national competitions in NSW, I still see that our responsibility is to kapa haka everywhere not just NSW and to the people that live in NSW.

I’m sure there are many who will find it difficult to come forward and make suggestions however, I think the very best thing that we can all do is look for a way forward and encourage each other to have discussions, make comments and phone calls, send emails and texts to each other about how this can be achieved.


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