Fancy Friday Kaumātua Kanikani

There’s a serious side to Hamilton’s Rauawaawa Trust and the work they do looking after kaumātua around their region. But that work was put to the side one day in September when we were invited to find out more about the trust and test out our dance moves at the Fancy Friday Kaumātua Kanikani.

Kaumatua Kanikani dancing

By Kaumātua for Kaumātua

Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust is set up as a Kaumātua governed and led organisation to service the needs of Kaumātua within the Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) region.

It offers a wide range services covering health, education, recreation, housing and welfare. They’re all aimed at supporting and empowering Kaumātua. Having kaumātua involved in every aspect of the organisation is key to how Rauawaawa works, says Rauawaawa CEO Rangimahora Reddy.

Nine of the ten board members are kaumātua, its Kotahitanga volunteer committee has 15 members, all kaumātua, and 70% of its staff are over 50.

Through encouragement and support, kaumātua are empowered to uphold the roles and responsibilities within their own whānau.


Kiriata Matthews (centre) at the Kaumātua Kanikani

Kiriata Matthews has been involved in Rauawaawa for many years and is now the chair of Te Kotahitanga committee. One of the key roles of this committee of kaumātua volunteers is to organise the weekly social programmes held at the trust’s Frankton headquarters.

She explains how a typical day might pan out.

“We start with a karakia. Then we sing from 10.30 till 11. Then we do exercises. Low impact exercises, but we decided that the music was too slow, so we have jazzed that up. We have kapa haka before lunch.

“After lunch we sit around and have an open mic session. Anyone can sing, or do whatever they want. Then we might have line-dancing. We try and keep it simple, and easy.”

While Kiriata might say she is keeping it simple and easy, her own involvement sounds far from simple. Not only does this 77-year-old lead some of the exercise classes, but plays in the Kotahitanga band that regularly entertains the other kaumātua.

“I used to play the sax, but I haven’t got enough breath now, so I play the guitar.”

Kiriata’s commitment to Rauawaawa and Kotahitanga Days saw her awarded a 2015 Minister of Health volunteer award.

Kaumātua Kanikani

Kaumatua Kanikani couple dancing

One of the key jobs of the Kotahitanga Committee is to recommend and help organise special once a year events. That includes the Kaumātua Olympics and Kaumātua Idol. They used to organise a ball, but found that the late night was a bit much so for 2015, it was replaced with a Fancy Friday Kaumātua Kanikani (dance).

They invited the SuperSeniors website to have a photographer to capture the action.

What a joyous occasion it was – from 10am to 2.30pm, the only time the dance floor was empty was during the lunch break.

They’re gun dancers and clearly appreciating the two piece band that’s providing the bulk of the entertainment. A good smattering of old favourites goes nicely with some more contemporary numbers. Think Prince Tui Teka and ABBA, meets Lorde and you might get an idea of the variety of music.

While some of the kaumātua have donned their Sunday best, others have decided to take the Fancy Friday theme seriously with an array of fancy dress costumes.

The variety of music and outfits is well matched by the range of dance moves that rock the floor – there’s those who enjoy a waltz, there’s freestyle dancing, dancing with walkers, and in wheelchairs. The line dancing sessions on a Friday are paying dividends with some smart sequence. And right in the front row leading the moves is ... yes, you guessed it ... Kiriata Matthews.

Further information

Kaumatua Kanikani woman in clown outfit dancing

If you want to contact Rauawaawa to find out more about their work visit its website.

There are many organisations throughout Aotearoa that provide services similar to Rauawaawa Trust. A National Collective Hei Manaaki is currently developing a website and we’ll link to it when it is available.

The Ministry of Health publishes a list of Māori health providers, many of whom offer services for kaumātua. You can search for a provided by region.

Or you might like to contact your local Age Concern to see if they know of anything that might suit your needs.

And if you have been inspired by the line dancing at the Kaumātua kanikani, visit the line dancing in New Zealand website to see if there’s somewhere near you to go line dancing.