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Wednesday 08 October 2008


Mika Haka Kids: Sweat, tears & lime-green tights

Posted in: Television
By Matt Akersten - 29th September 2008

"This is Kasina. She used to be a sheep farmer, but I took her away from all that, and now she works for me!" – Mika.

He's one of New Zealand's best-recognised Maori entertainers – a dancing and singing legend who is proudly Takataapui – but who knew that he runs what can only be described as an entertainment 'boot camp' on the side?

mika_2.jpg
Mika & company: "We did gym training; muscle training, tai chi, yoga. Who the hell in South Auckland does yoga?"

Mika Haka Kids is a new documentary to be screened on Maori TV this Wednesday evening – and of course a preview DVD copy fell into GayNZ.com's eager hands, from a source close to the dependable diva.

We learn that Mika runs a course of Contemporary Maori Performing Arts at Auckland University of Technology. But how does he find his talented students? Easy. Just head to Westfield: "I would go to shopping malls, find people who were good looking and looked like dancers, give them my card, and say 'Do you want to dance?'" Brilliant!

Having been 'discovered', the poor 'kids' had to work hard for their fame and fortune. A tight body-busting schedule of Yoga, gym training, regimented good food, muscle training, tai chai and jumping around in pink or lime green tights awaited them. And Mika always needs you to get to his dancing studio on time for rehearsals – so allow a good four hours ahead of time in case those pesky Auckland buses are late and you miss your connection at New Lynn Transport Centre!

"I run an army – it's a military operation with me," Mika confirms, his face like stone. Resistance is futile. Dancer Renee sobs: "We even had to mop the floors old-style on our hands and knees. No-one sat down. You never sat down!!!!"

The Mika Bunch's hard work eventually pays off with a big trip to the Edinburgh Festival where they were the toast of Scotland and the boys struck many a red-headed lady sick with lust. Fear not – brave Mika made sure all the young men were safely locked away from their fans' greedy attentions.

Then it's a stay in a luxury Adelaide hotel – where one room sleeps ten – before it's back home to Aotearoa, where we are assured that Mika Haka's Kids are "famous around the world – on billboards and in media."

The young crew certainly have "stepped outside the box" and into "Mika's magical world of cabaret". Their lives are forever changed… and their journeys are revealed in this slick, edgy, raw and shockingly honest doco.

Remember: "It's not about Mika at all," the entertainment guru modestly speaks of himself in the third person. "It's about them!"

Mika Haka Kids screens at 8:30pm, Wednesday 1 October on Maori Television.


Matt Akersten - 29th September 2008