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Maori group featured at powwow
5 August 2007

BISMARCK, ND - BISMARCK (UTN) A dance group of indigenous Polynesian peoples from New Zealand will perform during the United Tribes International Powwow.

      KAHURANGI, the Maori Dance Theatre, is the featured cultural group of the 38th annual powwow September 6 9 in Bismarck.

Eline Poi
The Maori dance group Kahurangi will perform during the United Tribes International Powwow in Bismarck. Photos courtesy Kahurangi.

      Kahurangi, meaning Cloak from Heaven, is a full-time, professional dance theater.

      Performances are set for 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8 and a 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 9 in Lone Star Arena, the powwow dance arbor in the center of the college campus.

      Maori and Polynesian culture and life ways are demonstrated in each performance.

      According to the group, Kahurangi brings to life the ihi or life force, through songs and dances that are part of the history and fabric of tribal life. They "bridge the past and the present with genealogical chants, martial arts techniques, powerful songs and pride in being Maori. Each presentation imparts a wealth of cultural and tribal knowledge to improve understanding about this unique indigenous culture."

      Kahurangi was formed in 1983 to provide cultural, recreational, educational and employment opportunities for graduates of Takitimu Performing Arts School in Hastings, New Zealand. The group says it has maintained a consistent presence in North America for the past 13 years and has presented over 2,000 performances around the world since 1985. Members are graduates of the school.

      "They bring with them the stories and heritage of their individual tribal areas and enjoy the support of their family, sub tribe and tribe as they represent New Zealand (Aotearoa) as cultural ambassadors."

      The Maori performers are on a learning experience of their own when they visit places like United Tribes. Each is on a one-year visit to North America that enables them to gain valuable artistic and performance experience.

      In the language, the word Maori (pronounced with a long "a") means "normal," "natural" or "ordinary," and distinguishes humans from deities and spirits. A noticeable feature of the traditional culture is bold facial tattoos.

      The traditional Maori welcome is expressed by the rubbing or touching of noses (hongi), similar to the Western custom of kissing by way of greeting. The literal meaning of hongi is the "sharing of breath."

      Maori people face many of the same challenges as tribal people everywhere, including institutional and direct racism. They are represented disproportionately in poverty, crime and imprisonment statistics. Efforts are underway to preserve the language and improve health conditions, provide educational opportunities and increase labor force participation.

      In mainstream popular culture, aspects of Maori life are depicted in the films "Whale Rider" (2002) and "Once Were Warriors" (1994), and the novel The Bone People (1984).

      Kahurangi is also scheduled to perform during Youth Day on Friday morning, September 7 and will appear in the powwow grand entries at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

      Funding to bring the cultural group to the powwow is provided by TESORO Refining and Marketing, Westcon Industries, Image Printing, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Theodore Jamerson Elementary School, MDU Resources Group, Advanced Office Solutions and Unifill, in collaboration with United Tribes.

      A $15 weekend pass guarantees entrance to the powwow and all cultural activities and events on the college campus. Elders (60 and over) and children (5 and under) enter free. There is no charge for parking.

      To obtain a powwow poster or for more information call 701-255-3285 x 1293, FAX 701-530-0633, or visit either www.unitedtribespowwow.com or www.uttc.edu.


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