Kapa haka contest to be annual event

A Queenstown man's dream to help Maori performing arts thrive in the resort took a giant step forward at the weekend.

Five kapa haka groups - including teams from Christchurch and Dunedin - took part in the Queenstown Winter 10s competition at the Queenstown Memorial Hall on Saturday.

With help from Ngai Tahu Tourism, the event was organised by Jahmaine Cummings and Mahia Brown, the tutors of recently formed kapa haka group Te Iti o Tahuna.

Mr Cummings said that after putting out feelers to schools in the district, the pair began tutoring Maori performing arts at Wakatipu High School about 12 months ago, and formed Te Iti o Tahuna with pupils from the school.

Buoyed by its success at competitions, they formed a senior section six months later, bringing its total number to more than 40, and have also started teaching kapa haka at Arrowtown School.

However, after taking both intermediate and senior groups to a regional competition in Christchurch last December, he realised there would be no more opportunities to compete for another 12 months, so decided to organise his own competition.

''We've been here for three years, and there's been nothing like this down here before. We wanted to show people what Queenstown is all about, and bring some Maori culture down here.

"This time of year we've got a lot of tourists, so it's a good chance for them to have exposure to it as well.''

He plans to make the competition an annual event, and has already set a date, July 3, for next year.

A combined intermediate and senior group from Te Iti o Tahuna will also travel to Hawaii next June to compete in a kapa haka competition organised by an expat New Zealander.