Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti ©

Ko Whângârâ te pûtahi o te tangata
Ko Whângârâ te pârekereke o te kôrero


Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ-Mai-Tawhiti (Whângârâ) is a Mâori performing arts group commonly known as a ‘kapa haka’ in Aotearoa – New Zealand. It was first established in 1961, and was then revived in 1976. The current group was formed in 1995, following requests from local Whângârâ elders who wished to keep the customs and traditions of Whângârâ alive.

Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti have competed and won numerous placings at a national level over the years. In 2007, Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti were humbled to be named supreme champions at the National Te Matatini Kapa Haka competitions becoming the Kapa Haka champions of Aotearoa – New Zealand, and effectively of the world. Whangara placed second in the 2009 competition held in Tauranga in February. Therefore maintaining this excellent standard.


The group represents the Ngâti Konohi tribe from Gisborne which is located on the East Coast of the North Island in New Zealand. Whângârâ is the landing place of the legendary Paikea, the iconic ancestor of Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti, who travelled to New Zealand on the back of a whale. His arrival is commemorated within the walls of Whitireia and Waho-te-rangi, the meeting houses at Whângârâ and more recently in the internationally acclaimed movie ‘The Whale Rider’.

The nearby island, Toka-a-rangi, is said to be the final resting place of this ancestor and is the burial ground of Paikea, Porourangi, Hinematioro and other renowned ancestors of the Tairâwhiti (East Coast region).


Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti is made up of a performing membership numbering 65, with associates, affiliates and whanau (family) in excess of another 350. The majority of members are based in Gisborne and there are 25 members who travel from outside the region to attend practices.

The key stakeholders of Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti include:

  • Taikura – Elders / Supporters
  • Taimatua - Performers / Supporters
  • Taiohi / Rangatahi – Secondary School Students / Supporters
  • Tai Perehunga / Babies – Primary School & Infants / Supporters

The group boasts a number of seasoned performers and leading Kapa Haka tutors including primary tutor and composer Derek Lardelli. Derek is an internationally renowned Tamoko (Mâori Tattoo) artist and his work ranges across a variety of media and cultural consultancy roles. He is the author of the much debated haka (challenge) of the NZ Rugby Team (All Blacks) ‘Kapo o Pango’ and has worked with large corporate institutions such as Air NZ to design their uniform as well as designing sculptural works for the NZ Olympics team to Athens, the Commonwealth games team to Australia and most recently the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo.


Te Kapa Haka o Whângârâ Mai Tawhiti operates a full Calendar of Events. The group regularly participates in regional, national and international events that are of a competitive, entertainment and cultural nature.

Recent Events:

  • 5th Overall at Te Matatini o te Ra 2011
  • Performed at the World Expo in Shanghai, China as New Zealand ambassadors (July, August, 2010)
  • Performed at the Laureate Art Awards – Auckland (Nov, 2009)
  • Performed at the Koanga Haka Festival – Wellington (Oct, 2009)
  • Won the Tamararo Regional Competitions (Sep, 2009 and April 2010)
  • Performed at the NZ Unlimited Expo in Seoul, Korea as New Zealand ambassadors (April, 2009)
  • Second at the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competition in 2009
  • Performed at the South Pacific Arts Festival in America Samoa as New Zealand ambassadors (July, 2008)
  • Performed at the International WOMAD Festival in New Plymouth, NZ (March, 2008)
  • Leading tutor Derek Lardelli participated at the opening of the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo (November, 2007)
  • Hosted the dawn ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Sculpture exhibition (September, 2007)
  • Worked with the NZ Rugby Union and the All Blacks to consolidate their own expression of citizenship through the Haka June/October, 2007)
  • Winners of the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competition in 2007 becoming current World Kapa Haka Champions (February, 2007)