Ihaka Whanarere
Finding identity and joy through Te Ao Māori and Kapa Haka

Thirteen-year-old  Ihaka Whanarere (Te Āti Hau Nui ā Papārangi, Ngā Puhi, Ngā Rāuru Kītahi, Te Iwi Mōrehu) is grateful to have grown up with the taonga Kapa haka and Poi; art forms that he sees as gifts that have helped him to nurture his own happiness. Despite being such a large part of his identity and journey, Ihaka has been bullied for using Poi, commonly known as a ‘feminine’ form of art.

While always knowing poi is traditionally ‘female’, Ihaka feels like it is a part of who he is, and nobody can take that away. He encourages people, no matter their gender, to go for what they want, and what makes them happy. Ihaka is trying to inspire other tāne to do poi, just as he does – because poi is for everyone.

Ihaka encourages people to “embrace their inner true selves”, to be who they are and not what others want them to be.

Ki te watea te hinengaro,
me te rere pai o te wairua,
ka taea e nga mea katoa

When the mind is free,
And the spirit willing,
anything is possible
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