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Calls for world indigenous kapa haka event after African language similarity surprises

Te Ahikaa Trotman

Tiktok video shows sound similarities between te reo Māori and the Sesotho language.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A recent social media burst has seen Māori waiata playing on the South African side of TikTok.

A Tiktok video posted by Whakaata Māori during the Mataatua regional kapa haka competition went viral on the app, where the view count now sits at 4.5 million.

The video’s comment section was filled by South Africans who thought that the kapa haka group, Te Whānau a Apanui, were singing in their language.

A long-time member of Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau a Apanui, Tamati Waaka, said his first thoughts on seeing the reaction were happy.

“If someone follows what you do, to some it may be disrespecting tikanga but to me, it’s honouring our kapa’s work on that day.”

Te Reo Māori shares a lot of similar sounds with the African language, Sesotho, an officially recognised language in South Africa and Lesotho.

Waaka believes the waiata resonated with the South Africans.

“It must have resonated with them, our older siblings over there in Africa. They’ve turned the tune around and added their own language, it’s great, it’s good for the many to see.”

A global indigenous competition is a strong possibility, according to Waaka, and it’s nothing new to Māori.

“Kapa haka has been put out to the world. Our government is a bit uninformed about this but Māori culture has been told around the world and this is proof of this.

“The English word is globalisation, and I know our ancestors followed this idea. They sailed the Pacific Ocean, walked lands and took haka, waiata and dance, so maybe we do need to come up with some sort of global competition.”

Hero Image: Te Whanau A Apanui

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