The team from Tongariro Prison has been crowned the overall winner of the 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka.

The competition winners were announced by National Commissioner Rachel Leota and Deputy Chief Executive Māori Topia Rameka this week.

The six winning sites across the 13 categories will be presented with a taonga created by another site. Senior staff and the project management team will visit the sites to formally present the winning taonga.

Tongariro Prison received the taonga Piritahitanga, which was donated by Rimutaka Prison, as the overall winner. They were also awarded first place in the Waiata Tira, Whakaeke, Mōteatea, Waiata-a-ringa and Haka categories.

The theme for the 2021 Whakataetae Kapa Haka was Whānau, one of the six pou in Corrections’ Hōkai Rangi strategy. Through Hōkai Rangi Corrections is addressing the overrepresentation of Maori serving sentences in prisons and the community.

“We know that whānau is such an integral part of the journey that everyone of our prisoners go through during their time in prison and when they transition back into the community,” says Rachel Leota.

“We were treated to some amazing performances, and the passion and commitment by everyone involved was shown in each presentation.”

Corrections’ National Office donated a taonga to be awarded to the team whose performance best represented the six key principles of Hōkai Rangi. This was won by Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility.

Whakataetae kapa haka supports Hōkai Rangi by bringing participants closer to their culture, identity and language. Kapa haka tutors from the community, iwi and mana whenua were invited to support the participants in their learning and preparation.

This year’s performances took part across June and July.

“By presenting this kaupapa during Matariki and Pūanga we were able to further strengthen relationships within our Māori communities,” said Topia Rameka.

“We would like to acknowledge the mana whenua, kapa haka tutors, judges, staff and prisoners who worked so hard to make this competition a success”

The announcement, as well as the performances from all those who participated, will now be screened on Prison TV across the country.