Inter-prison kapa haka competition launched

  • Hon Kelvin Davis

For the first time, all 18 prisons in New Zealand will be invited to participate in an inter-prison kapa haka competition, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.

The 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka will see groups prepare and perform kapa haka for experienced judges who visit each prison and ultimately choose winners across a variety of categories.

Kelvin Davis said the competition supports the aims of Corrections’ strategy Hōkai Rangi by bringing participants closer to their culture, identity and language.

“Access to culture is a fundamental right, not a privilege, regardless of a person’s circumstances,” Kelvin Davis said.

“This is a chance for prisoners and staff to celebrate Māori culture while also building teamwork, discipline and a sense of achievement.

“In 2020, the competition had a positive impact on the relationships between staff, prisoners and all those involved. It created whanaungatanga within the groups,” Kelvin Davis said.

Eight sites participated in the inaugural competition in 2020. This year the competition is expanding, with all prisons involved, as well as staff from Community Corrections sites. Corrections will partner with kapa haka tutors from the community, iwi and mana whenua to support participants in their preparation.

“This is a small but significant part of our work in prisons to break the cycle of Māori reoffending and imprisonment,” Kelvin Davis said.

“We’ve launched Hōkai Rangi and Māori Pathways, we’ve placed thousands of offenders into employment, and we’re implementing a major boost to mental health and addiction services.

“These are long term challenges, but we are already seeing results. There are 830 fewer Māori in prison today compared to this time three years ago. The Māori imprisonment rate, while still too high, has been decreasing, and Māori reconviction and reimprisonment rates are improving,” Kelvin Davis said.

Kelvin Davis said many of the men and women have never been involved with kapa haka before.

“It is great to now be able to provide them with the opportunity to learn waiata, poi, and haka, and about Māori culture and heritage,” Kelvin Davis said.

The theme for this year is “Whānau”, incorporating one of the key principles from Hōkai Rangi. Performances and judging will take place in June and July, with winners announced in August.

The 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka will be funded through the Māori Pathways Programme.

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