Members of a Manutuke kapa haka team find a fitness programme that helps keep them on top of their game.
THE swell of voices rising in waiata gives way to the bulge of biceps when a Manutuke kapa haka team swaps rehearsing for training in the great outdoors.
“Stay in it whānau,” Tū Te Manawa Maurea kaiāwhina Bruce Amai urges as team members realise just how many press-ups and kettle bell lifts they have let themselves in for. “It will be so worth it.”
As part of their build up for the 2017 Te Matatini kapa haka nationals, members of TTMM (Rongowhakaata) have taken part in weekly sessions known as Tū Haa – an outdoor training initiative run by Turanga Health.
“Being fit is important for the performers but this is also a way for them to strengthen their bond away from the performance arena,” says Turanga Health kaiāwhina Bernie Semau.
Bernie has a background in health science and personal training. “Taking the activities outside means we can use and enjoy our natural resources. People like being out and about and appreciating where they live.”
Bruce Amai's role as kaiāwhina with TTMM sees him working behind the scenes, but he joins the team front and centre at their Thursday night Tū Haa sessions.
“I like to stay active and I like to get behind the whānau and this is a way of bringing the two together,” he says. “It builds on and enhances what we already have as a whānau and as a team.”
It is also a way of making sure TTMM is always on its game.
“Te Matatini is over for another four years but we always take part in the Tairāwhiti Tamararo regionals so, by continuing to work together, we stay focused.”
With Tū Haa (the breath), anyone can take part and TTMM kai haka Alex Ria says that suits her perfectly.
Alex has been member of the team for 10 years and in 2010 added a further string to her bow by training for Iron Māori.
Tū Haa sessions help her maintain fitness for kapa haka and the myriad of other sporting commitments she and her whānau enjoy.
And, as she says, the whānau that plays together, stays together . . . for Te Matatini 2017, son Kereopa (17) played guitar and joined in on the Tū Haa circuit.
“When you step up a level to do something like Iron Māori it’s worth maintaining that fitness and these sessions really help,” Alex says.
“It helps us continue those important connections we have within the team, plus it's great to go somewhere after work where you can really have a blow-out.”
Story by Kristine Walsh
Images by Strike Photography
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