Kapa Haka Festival

Last week, Rawene Primary School hosted the annual Hokianga Kapa Haka Festival. The children wore beautiful costumes and performed traditional waiata, chants, and dances they’ve been practicing for months.

Countless people in the community worked on the children’s costumes: cutting and preparing flax and reeds, cutting fabric and tailoring each costume to each child, gluing feathers. And then the day of, changing clothes, brushing hair and arranging ornaments, rubbing oil on skin and hair.

Excitement and nerves ruled the children before their performance, but as they launched into their exuberant haka and harmonious waiata, their nervousness gave way to pride in their school, their culture, and in themselves.


Only one person in this picture is posing. Can you spot him?




S’s class performed a Samoan dance and a Sasa, while her teacher accompanied on drum and guitar. He’s from Samoa and quite a performer himself.


This is one of the visiting schools. Their performance was especially impressive because the boys’ haka with their tall sticks had to be performed outside the tent.


The day before the festival, the senior classroom was transformed into a hangi-assembly line and the students chopped, peeled, cut, mixed, and prepared over 200 foil-wrapped dinners. They also dug the hangi pit, where the dinners steamed while the performances were going on.


By 1pm, the fragrant steamed pumpkin, potato, cabbage, and everything else inside the hangi was hot and ready to eat.



K. came with me to help serve food in the main hall and watch the performances. I’m so glad all my kids got to participate in this day!


2 thoughts on “Kapa Haka Festival

  1. That all looks so amazing! And YUM! Oh, how I would love to taste that food.
    (The little girl’s “I *heart* NY” t-shirt in the 2nd to last picture is funny.) 🙂

    • Hi Brooke! You know how much better food tastes outdoors? Hangi follows that rule. But it’s not hard to make–it’s very much like any foil dinner you want to put together, along with sweet potato, pumpkin, and a ball of stuffing. I think the ingredients change according to season, locality, and personal preference.

      And I wondered if anyone would notice the t-shirt! Another thing (besides U.S. logo stuff) to watch for is anything Jamaican or reggae or Bob Marley.

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