Youth group uses haka to keep community centre stage

7:23 am on 24 November 2018

A youth group in the Auckland of suburb Glen Innes is using kapa haka to bring their community together after a decade of turbulent changes.

Children practising for Kotuku festival.

Children gear up for the Kotuku festival today. Photo: RNZ / Eden More

Glen Innes has gone from a suburb full of state houses - to one where the median house price sits above $1 million.

The youth group, Te Amiorangi, has organised the Kotuku festival today as way of ensuring rangatahi still know their place in the community.

Te Amiorangi youth group leader Jordan Maakea said the intensive redevelopment has confused rangatahi to not knowing what's going on in the community.

"Not seeing familiar faces anymore because of the families being moved out. So our rangatahi are kind of drifting away from community events."

The Te Amiorangi youth group is run from Ruapotaka Marae and works to engage with local youth.

Late last year the community dealt with six suspected suicides in the space of four months.

"That's a huge point to why Te Amiorangi exists is around suicide prevention.

"So maybe one way we can help them cope with it is through dance and singing and in this case kapa haka."

The Kotuku festival is the first kapa haka gathering the group has organised and is being led by 25 youth leaders.

Glenbrae School is one of 15 local schools that have been practising for the festival for the last two months.

"I feel very hype because I can't wait to do this Māori haka and stuff," student Matthew Tukuafu said.

Mr Maakea said it was all worthwhile.

"For me it's cool to see our rangatahi getting involved with this because when they start growing up they can really see what life has to offer for them.

"Hopefully they can come back to where it started from, which is GI."

Kotuku festival will be held at Ruapotaka Marae today.