Hato Paora protest sees kapa haka poi ban revoked

Hato Paora College has successfully protested over a rule stopping boys-only schools doing the poi at the National Secondary Schools kapa haka competition.

Last month, the organising committee for the competition told boys-only schools they would have to swap poi routines for mau rakau – performances using taiaha.

But that change has now been revoked, following Hato Paora’s protest.

The original poi ruling, just a few months out from the finals in July, was labelled “incredibly unfair” by Hato Paora College, which is in the Manawatu.

Principal Debi Marshall-Lobb said last month that mau rakau had never been part of kapa haka at the college.

She added that a poi-based routine was already being practised for the finals by Hato Paora when the change was announced.

The organising body, the Kapa Haka Kura Tuarua National Committee, said the poi changes had been supported unanimously by representatives from 14 regions.

They were aimed at making the competition more inclusive by enabling collaboration between single-sex schools.

Under the initial rule change, boys-only schools would not be marked for poi performances if they chose to include them in their routines during the finals, to be staged in Hawke’s Bay.

Hato Paora College complained to the committee that it had not been directly consulted over the proposed change.

The committee sought further feedback, and said it had subsequently received views from more than 190 schools.

Then it decided to give single-sex schools the option to perform either poi routines or mau rakau.

Committee spokesman Willie Te Aho said that, of 39 competing schools, only one had objected to the substance of the original poi rule change.

While consultation did not result in “an overwhelming, clear-cut” consensus, Mr Te Aho said, the committee’s decision had been welcomed and “the focus now is on hosting a great festival”.


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