Māori delegates composed a haka -- or traditional Māori dance -- and gifted it to Southcentral Foundation at the organization’s annual Gathering event Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in Anchorage.
The haka is likely 19 years in the making. It was performed in collaboration with some Yupik traditional dancers by Māori delegates from New Zealand.
One of the delegates, Mururaupatu Kemara Maipi-Campbell, 28, said the relationship between the Māori and Southcentral began with his grandfather.
“About 19 years ago when my grandfather and a few other members of our community traveled to Alaska to find other indigenous initiatives, health initiatives around the world. He had heard about a story of the Native people of Alaska assuming responsibility of their health care system,” Maipi said. “As I was a kid my grandfather would talk about this amazing work that's happening in Alaska, and as I got older I got the chance to come here.
Two years ago, Southcentral Foundation’s CEO and president Katherine Gottlieb invited the delegation to attend the Alaska Federation of Natives convention.
“To share our culture -- not only to share our culture but also hopefully inspire the youth -- the Native Alaskan youth -- to inspire them that in the sense that being indigenous and Native is the most unique, special thing to be,” Maipi said. “Your heritage and history is what makes you.”
On stage, a mix of Māori and Yup'ik culture merged. As the Māori performed the haka, many delegates wore blue kuspuk with silver trim, gifts from Southcentral Foundation.
“I'm lucky enough to be a part of a community that thrives in Māori traditional ways and,” Maipi said. I wear my regalia back home all the time, so I figured when I come to Alaska i like to wear the gifts that were given to me and my kuspuk that was given to me. Pretty much I just like representing the Native culture of the land.”
Maipi said the delegation was headed back to New Zealand for a huge haka competition. And they would also take part in a hearing where their tribe was reclaiming its Native self-determination.