Te Matatini: Nursing graduate shares views ahead of competition

Nikora Wade (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tūhoe) is taking part in his third Te Matatini festival, alongside Te Hekenga a Rangi.

Nikora Wade, tauira of the Faculty of Medical Health Sciences
Nikora Wade, tauira of the Faculty of Medical Health Sciences

Achieving a longer lifespan for [Māori] kaumātua is at the top of Nikora’s priority list. He graduated last year with a Bachelor of Nursing, and is now starting med school at the University of Auckland.

“Getting into med school has changed my life and opened up so many opportunities,” he says.

His kuia was the catalyst to undertake medical studies, after she was diagnosed with cancer when he was just seven-years-old. The now 23-year-old intends to provide healthcare for all Māori that incorporates Māori values, and iwi and hapū specific ideologies.

“Nan was still young. Much was lost through her death; mātauranga, pakiwaitara and most importantly, time. I may have a huge dream to impact the health of Māori people. However, I understand that it might not happen in my lifetime. The ultimate goal is to inspire our tamariki to carry on our wero of changing the world for the better.”

This month, Nikora will also excel in the kapa haka performance domain, as he prepares to take the stage at Te Matatini for the third time.

“I have done kapa haka since I was 11 and have performed in two Te Matatini festivals throughout my high school years. One with Te Puu Ao in 2015, and the other, Tuhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao in 2017.”

This year, he’ll perform with Te Hekenga a Rangi.

He says Te Matatini is a platform for Māori to represent your whānau, hapū, and hometown at the biggest event in Te Ao Māori.

“It’s an opportunity for our people to reconnect with their iwi, strengthen their identity as an individual, and to learn the stories and mātauranga of the hosting rohe.”

Matatini can be a vehicle for cultural revitalisation, but Nikora says it’s important to understand the balance between competition and kaupapa – as Te Matatini is super competitive.

“I've been at the spectrum of competitiveness and it can be taxing. However, when I joined Te Ahi Tipua o Tūwharetoa, I was able to gain an understanding of kaupapa and competition, and rather had a deep desire to reconnect to my iwi.

“I'm still working on my craft, still getting growlings, and sometimes my voice is flat. But I embrace it!

“Kapa haka constantly keeps me accountable and reminds me that I am not perfect, and that learning is continuous, no matter how adept we may become in a certain area.”

Nikora says kapa haka is a “priceless taonga" to all Māori people.

Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland, is a sponsor of Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata National Kapa Haka Festival 2023, in support with the University’s Iwi-manaaki and hosting rohe, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. Te Matatini brings together the country’s most elite Kapa Haka groups in celebration of Māori culture.
The festival is held biennially in different cities and is welcomed back to Tāmaki Makaurau after 21 years. The University of Auckland’s sponsorship aligns with Taumata Teitei, the University’s strategy to enhance kaupapa Māori.

Media contact

Te Rina Triponel | Kaitohutohu Pāpāho Māori
E: te.rina.triponel@auckland.ac.nz