Nine competitive kapa haka have converged on Sydney, Australia to compete for one of the three spots up for grabs on the national stage at Te Matatini 2015 in Christchurch, NZ.
Groups were welcomed in a pōwhiri which incorporated and acknowledged the Indigenous people of Australia with an Aboriginal cleansing ceremony performed by Wiradjuri elder Stephen Williams.
Better known as "Uncle Steve", Liverpool's Citizen of the Year says he was happy to take part in officially opening this auspicious event, and that having this connection with Māori as indigenous people of this land, is indeed very special.
Archdeacon Karipa of Ngāi Takoto descent who is based in Sydney, opened the formalities with prayers.
Matatini delegates and judges were also amongst today's guests, including Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.
Two of the three teams who qualified from the 2012 Māori Performing Arts Festival in Canberra; Te Rāranga Whānui (Sydney), and Tūranga Ake (Brisbane), return this year with hopes to qualify again for Te Matatini.
In 2012, 11 teams took to the stage, and even though that number has dropped slightly, organisers expect the calibre of performances to be better than ever.
Zina Abraham, known locally as the 'Queen of Kapa Haka', and a Liverpool resident for over 40 years, is pleased that the festival has returned to Whitlam Leisure Centre.
Zina, who herself has performed in numerous Australian-based kapa over the years, says gatherings like this are important, especially for our younger generations to connect with their culture, despite not living in Aotearoa.
She also says the festival has attracted groups from every Australian state over the years, including Adelaide, and is excited to see what tomorrow holds.
The groups performing tomorrow are: Te Puna Mārama (NSW), Te Toi o Ngā Rangi (NSW), Te Papakanui-a-Māui (WA), Tūwhitia (QLD), Te Huinga Waka (QLD), Te Rāranga Whānui (NSW), Te Kura Roa (WA), Tūranga Ake (QLD) and Manawa Mai Tawhiti (WA).
Performances kick off at 8am, along with the performances, a range of Māori kai stalls and wares will also be at the event.