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Marae stay enriches group

Wairarapa REAP tutor Tama Biddle, right, with the IDEA Services kapa haka group in the marae.


By Emily Norman

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A journey of confidence-building and cultural enrichment reached its peak for the IDEA Services kapa haka group as they embraced an extended stay at Masterton’s Te Rangimarie Marae last week.

IDEA Services Wairarapa is an organisation that assists people with an intellectual disability to represent their interests and establish themselves in the community.

Their kapa haka group, Te Roopu Manaaki, participated in a Noho Marae (overnight stay at the Marae) from Wednesday morning to Friday at noon.

Wairarapa REAP tutor Tama Biddle has worked with the kapa haka group for almost a year now, and has witnessed the transformation of each person since then.

He said the Noho Marae experience had been an “awesome journey” for the group.

“We learned a lot and have grown in many ways, especially offstage,” he said.

“Their confidence has grown and they’ve been feeling better about themselves as people.

“They’ve become closer as a group of people and they tend to look after each other better.”

The experience had helped them gain awareness in Maori culture, he said.

The girls looking pretty in pink as they sing for their families. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
The girls looking pretty in pink as they sing for their families. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

The group welcomed their family and friends onto the marae with a kapa haka performance on Thursday night, donning their striking pink, black and white costumes – the colours of IDEA services, and decorated faces.

“It’s really satisfying for me as a tutor to see the progress these people have made and the passion that they put into their performing and practices,” Mr Biddle said.

“It’s something I’ve noticed about this group that has stood out for me.”

IDEA Services support staff member Melanie Deacon said the group’s families were “thrilled” to see them perform on the Thursday night, and were proud of them for embracing the Noho Marae experience.

“It was just wonderful to see them in that environment and see how well they adapted to that.

“Some of our guys don’t like change in their routine and to be able to come out of their comfort zone is a big thing.”

Mr Biddle commended the ongoing support that IDEA Services provided Wairarapa people.

“The IDEA services staff are outstanding,” he said.

“They’re a real strong, but humble group of people that work hard to make my job easier.

“It’s a real team effort between all of us to work with this kapa haka group.”


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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