Māori action songs and haka (along with stick and string games) became part of the New Zealand primary-school curriculum in the 1940s and 1950s. Students at Belmont School in Auckland, filmed in 1944, can be seen here performing an action song (girls) and the Te Rauparaha 'Ka mate' haka (boys). A new superintendent of physical education, Englishman Phillip Smithells, wanted to combine the best of international trends with New Zealand's life and culture. He felt that Māori physical activities were useful in themselves, as well as being specific to New Zealand. In a 1943 article in the Education Gazette Smithells wrote, 'These activities, while they may not have the same cultural and historical significance to the pakeha, as to the Maori, are exceedingly good for the body of the pakeha.'
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Reference: Weekly Review 171. National Film Unit, 1944
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