Major US theme park Volcano Island opens with kapa haka

Date of Event: May 24, 2017

Tapeta Wehi performing a haka at Universal Studios in Orlando
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Universal Studios Grand Opening in Orlando

Travelling to Universal Studios Orlando was a major highlight in 2017.

The kapa haka troupe were a mixture of experienced travellers and first-timers. This was a childhood dream come true for many of us.

We were given the honour of opening “Volcano Island”, a new water park that is part of Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida. The park has a Pasifika theme and features a range of water-themed rides including pools and slides.

It claims to be the home of the fictional “Waturi” tribe – a mash-up of Pacific cultures that, according to the park’s story, travelled the Pacific meeting the inhabitants of various islands and picking up elements of their cultures.

Our Māori warriors performing a pūkana at the grand opening of Universal Studios in USA


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Our Māori warriors performing a pūkana at the grand opening of Universal Studios in USA

It was the group’s “blessing and honour to bring the legacy of our elders to this land

We were joined by singer Maisey Rika. The opening ceremony also involved a karanga, hongi, and the gifting of a mauri stone brought over from New Zealand.

The ceremony was broadcast live on  the Today Show in the US, which has an average audience of more than four million people.

It was also live streamed on Facebook with more than 1 million people tuning in.

The music for the ceremony was written Auckland producer Matt Smith, who said the park was a “fantastic opportunity to showcase Maori and other Pacific cultures to a massive American audience.”