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All go for haka challenge

By Seamus Boyer

[email protected]

Tomorrow Wairarapa takes on the world.

And while the event will take place on a sports field, it’s not any traditional sport that will be happening.

Instead pupils from schools across the region will be at their fiercest as they try to break an international haka record.

The event takes place at Memorial Park, Masterton, at 12pm.

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

The current record was set by 4028 French rugby fans on September 27, 2014, toppling the previous record of 3,264 in New Zealand in 2008.

Why French rugby fans would even want to attempt the record is unclear, but the need to win it back is obvious.

And all those involved in getting this far should already be proud of what they have achieved.

Marshalling 7000 children is no easy feat in itself, but getting them to learn the haka and perform in a choreographed spectacle must be near impossible.

There are few things on such a scale that unite all Wairarapa children, but this has the ability to inspire those who take part.

No one will be excluded, all can come and take part.

In fact, those keen to turn up on the day and register are welcome to do so.

If all goes to plan Wairarapa will claim the record and get a little taste of fame.

The images will be all over the internet, with media around the world bound to pick up the quirky little story.

And all because a hearty group of organisers decided that a little region could achieve something extraordinary.

What are the benefits of such an exercise, beyond the record?

Mr Ammunson sums it up well: “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.”

It will certainly be a sight to see.

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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