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Haka record on the line

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

A year’s worth of haka practices will pay off for Wairarapa school children tomorrow as they attempt to set the haka Guinness World Record.

More than 7000 children, representing every school and pre-school in the region, will perform the haka – Ko Wairarapa – composed for the people of Wairarapa by Paora Ammunson of Papawai Marae, Greytown, in the late 1980s.

It will be held tomorrow at noon, at Masterton’s Memorial Park.

Mr Ammunson, who is also a South Wairarapa district councillor, said he would be “chuffed” if Wairarapa reclaimed the world record.

“But we’re already seeing the benefits of this project,” he said.

“All of our kids – Pakeha, Maori, Asian, Pacific kids, and ones of Pacific ancestry –  all of our kids know Ko Wairarapa and they can all stand up and do it.

“I feel really thrilled for our community that we’ve got a haka that we can do together, all of us.”

Mr Ammunson said “other than a 1980s rugby match” he could not think of another time when 7000 Wairarapa people stood united.

“I’ll be very proud to have been a small part of it.

“It’s going to be awesome seeing thousands of our young people standing up.

“What a moment in time.”

Currently the haka Guinness World Record is held by French rugby fans.

The record was set by 4028 rugby fans at the Stade Amedee-Domenech in France on September 27, 2014, toppling the previous record of 3,264 in New Zealand in 2008.

It had been Masterton Intermediate School principal Russell Thompson’s idea to bring the record home.

He approached Wairarapa REAP to help bring the project to fruition.

Trudy Sears at Wairarapa REAP said schools had been practising for the event since October last year.

People who had not registered to take part in the performance could turn up and register on the day.

No Guinness representative would be present at the event, Ms Sears said.

“Unfortunately the cost of the project didn’t stretch that far, but we have lots of support from local businesses who are helping us achieve and get the information we need to submit it to Guinness.”

There would be official witnesses and timekeepers and the performance will be screened on Wairarapa TV.

Guinness records could be disallowed if planning and paperwork were not correct, or if events were not carried out as described by the organisers.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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