Researching Kapa Haka and its Educational Meanings in Today’s Aotearoa/New Zealand: Weaving Methodologies, Perspectives and Decency

By Hiromi Sakamoto.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Kapa Haka is a form of Māori performing arts in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Kapa Haka has made significant contributions in sustaining and revitalizing Tikanga Māori (Māori cultural protocols), Te Reo Māori (Māori language), and Māori people’s confidence and cultural identity (Kaiwai & Zemke-White, 2004; Whitinui, 2008). In the last thirty years, Kapa Haka festivals and competitions have become major artistic and social events among Māori people. Today Kapa Haka is popular and is taught throughout the country. It exists in diverse social and educational contexts in New Zealand. While Te Reo Māori (Māori language) struggles to proliferate, Kapa Haka seems to be gaining more popularity, crossing cultural boundaries of Māoridom. After working as a producer/director/teacher in the performing arts industries in Tokyo and New York for more than two decades, I came to New Zealand and started studying Kapa Haka intensively under a respected Kapa Haka teacher. After a couple of years, I decided to pursue my research on “Kapa Haka teachers’ meanings of teaching Kapa Haka”. In this article, I discuss relevant perspectives based on my professional background and my desire to be an ethically decent researcher, and their links to the valued methodologies that have framed my research process.

Keywords: Kapa Haka, Māori Performing Art, Indigenous Cultural Practice, Performing Arts, Arts Education, Democratic Education, Qualitative Research, Decolonizing Methodologies

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.57-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 932.664KB).

Hiromi Sakamoto

PhD candidate, Dance Studies Programme, National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, The University of Auckland, Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Originally from Osaka, Hiromi started working as a director of TV drama at NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) and moved to New York, where he created a nonprofit production company that promoted cultural understandings between the US and Japan through stage arts and media. He produced and directed many performing arts programmes, and helped materialize about 30 TV documentary programmes (1989-2003). While in New York, he studied under Maxine Greene at Teachers College, Columbia University, and obtained his Master’s degree in Dance and Dance Education. In 2003, he moved back to Japan and taught at an art University in Kyoto as Associate Professor for three years. He also directed and produced “Family Learning Centre (Kodomo Geijyutsu Daigaku)”, a community-based arts education centre there. Currently he is pursuing his doctoral research in Dance Studies at National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Upon moving to Aotearoa/New Zealand, he started studying Kapa Haka intensively under Dr. Ngapo Wehi and Angela Smith at the University of Auckland. He is one of the doctoral scholarship recipients of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (National Institute of Research Excellence for Māori Development and Advancement) in 2011.


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