Kotahitanga - Part 1

Uploaded by AttitudeTV on 20.01.2011

Tanya: Today we follow Dan and 4 other guys on a physical and spiritual journey.
Dan: The 5 of us all have different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages. Yet we are brought together
through our shared experience of having a disability and playing the sport we love.
Tanya: For 8 weeks the boys got to know themselves and each other better than ever through Kotahitanga,
a unique Haka designed especially for the Wheel Blacks, performed at the Attitude Awards.
V/O: They’re macho, they’re athletes, they’re use to playing wheelchair rugby
in front of thousands of fans but these boys are building up to what will be their biggest
challenge yet.
5 members of the Wheel Blacks have been asked to perform the opening act at the Attitude
Awards. It’s a Haka written especially for us, a piece that represents our shared experience
being disabled sportsmen.
The Haka is the ultimate traditional Maori performance.
Dan It’s just the idea of 5 guys coming together and creating something and being
part of something together.
Clayton: Doing the Haka like it really empowers you and it makes you feel worthy.
Cameron: Just because we all have disabilities doesn’t mean that we can’t put on an awesome
performance and throw out a pretty kick-arse Haka.
Curtis: I want people to be talking about this, you know, for months to come.
Nafi: You wouldn’t think that a guy in a wheelchair could actually do the Haka but
yeah it’s a privilege.
V/O: Our preparations began 8 weeks out from our big night. Choreographers Marino and Parai
have taken time to learn about our disabilities and create a Haka just for us.
Marino: Well for the next few weeks anyway I’ll show you guys how to do the chant and
how to do the actions.
V/O: The Wheel Blacks have always been regarded as the underdogs on the international wheelchair
rugby scene. Yet we’ve always had courage and a passion for our sport.
We’re equally committed when we turn up for our first rehearsal. Well those of us
who turn up on time.
Marino: Good to see you turned up.
Curtis: Well you know I was waiting for the other guy that hasn’t turned up.
Marino: I was just explaining to the boys how over the next 8 weeks we’ll try and
bring up a warrior Spartan, the Spartan side of you guys.
Yeah I’ll just go word by word.
Kotahitanga – We are as one, which you guys all are in the rugby team.
Taringa Whakaronga – Everyone listen up. Kia Rite Kia Rite – is just prepare to get
ready. Kia Mau – Bring it on.
Kia Rite Pakia – its just get ready for a powerful hit.
Pakia – is pretty much clap and I’m going to use your guys on your chairs to make that
sound on your chairs as well just go bang. Toku Manawa – means this is my heart.
Toku Wairua – this is my soul, spirit and pretty much that whole thing is heart and
soul, to show that you guys are warriors. Tenei Nga Rangatira – means we are the chiefs,
just yeah we’re the Wheel Blacks bring it on.
Whakaputa I te Po – means we are emerging from the dark.
Werohia I te Ao – challenging the world, which is what you guys are doing in your rugby
aye, going to bring on, take on all the Americans. Tutaki mai ki o tatou kaha – for we are
a force to be reckoned with.
V/O: Cameron Leslie is Napui he’s the youngest and the only Maori in the bunch, but with
such a strong head on his shoulders, he was the logical choice to lead.
V/O: Nafi Lefono is Samoan and one of the newest members of the Wheel Blacks, known
as the laid back kid, Nafi studies full time as a physiotherapist.
V/O: Clayton Utia is regarded as a gentle giant; he’s a man of few words, but full
of inner strength.
V/O: Curtis Palmer is the oldest in the mix, mentor to the young guys. After 6 years with
Attitude, this is kind of a farewell performance; he’s setting off around the world.
V/O: I’m Dan Buckingham, I thrive on a challenge, I’ve seen the power of the Haka and sense
this could be an experience that changes us all.
Curtis: Kotahitanga which is the Haka that we’re doing for the Awards embodies the
Wheel Blacks and where we’ve come from, who we are, what we’re doing and what we’re
Marino: Kotahitanga we are as one.
Curtis: What did you guys think of that.
Cameron: Good.
Curtis: The words sound like they fit?
Dan: Yeah encompasses what we’re doing here but also going forward this is something we’re
going to use for the team, for the Wheel Blacks.
V/O: We start with the basics, learning the words and pronunciation.
Team practices Maori pronunciation
Curtis: You know, this Haka is specially designed for us, you know, it’s our history, it’s
who we are and to me that’s hugely important.
V/O: There’s a lose plan, but our choreographers figure out what we’re capable of. 4 of us
are quadriplegic with limited use of our hands and arms, Cameron doesn’t even have hands.
Cameron: We’ve all got unique stories behind us, why not express that in our own way rather
than using a Haka that the All Blacks use. The All Blacks story is completely different
to the Wheel Blacks story. I think it’s awesome for us to show our, I guess in a way,
our heritage of coming into a game.
Nafi: I reckon people always have a perception about you if you’ve been in a wheelchair,
I guess doing this Haka, you know, gives that kind of persona that, you know, we’re in
a wheelchair but we can still do things like but you know differently so.
Dan: For me it’s just trying to remember it at this stage.
Marino: Can we try that again for the I AA HA HA you come forward yeah?
V/O: The boys come from different parts of the Pacific, we have different upbringings,
but we’re united by disability. I injured myself 11 years ago playing rugby.
Dan: My background is growing up in Southland, I guess it’s very salt of the earth, it’s
very very country, you know, growing up in Southland you still have town and country
but town is Invercargill which is 50,000 people it’s a far cry from Auckland.
V/O: Clayton is from Rarotonga, he broke his neck in a car accident 8 years ago.
Clayton: And since the accident I’m not really, like standing out, I don’t really
like crowds I just don’t like being the centre most of the time. So yeah like us being
on stage is, yeah it’s going, I should be good but yeah I’m kind of nervous.
V/O: Cameron’s a Northland boy he’s the only one of us born with a disability. He’s
not daunted by learning the Haka, as he’s always had to figure out how to do stuff.
With that Maori heritage and a healthy set of lungs he’s been given the job of leading
Cameron: I mean I’ve always been a comfortable speaker and things like that so I’ve always
you know been up in front of the whole school talking and things like that and in front
of large crowds talking but never doing a performance.
V/O: Nafi is from Samoa, he was on his way to becoming a professional rugby player when
he had his accident.
Nafi: Yeah the Samoan culture there’s definitely a lot of respect in that culture and a lot
of, I don’t know how you say it, like aroha, like love kind of thing.
V/O: But there isn’t an appreciation of disability. Nafi hopes his role in the Haka
might change that.
Curtis: I’m a bit of a gypsy, I was born in the South Island and we didn’t stay there
long before we moved to the North Island. I spent a lot of time on farms in the Waikato
before my Mum and Dad bought a corner dairy, fish and chip shop. We moved to Australia
when I was 10 years old in 1987. So you could say that most of the important years that
I grew up were in Australia. I moved back to New Zealand in 1996.
V/O: Curtis is drawn to the Haka because it symbolises strength. Since his accident at
the age of 15 he’s been determined to build a strong identity.