Behind the scenes, the climate is far more controlled. Teams do everything they can to unite physically, mentally and vocally. Te Kāea reporter, Maiki Sherman got exclusive access to the preparations and the psyche of champions.
It's the Tū Te Manawa Maurea train pulling in to the Te Matatini stage.
Dayne Hollis says, “They should remain true to themselves and have a laugh. However, what I also tell them is to prepare themselves mentally.”
He says, “Everyone sees the end product but what they don't see is the work behind it. The artists, the many hands that go into the costumes”
For Ngā Tūmanako, the time for games is over.
Tutor, Jade Maipi says, “They need to settle now because last night and today they've been really excited, jumping around, and what I've told them is to be calm now. They need to focus their thoughts on what they need to do and not to worry about what other groups have done. “
As the group gets closer to taking the stage, a unified focus is the aim.
Jade says, “for us in Ngā Tūmanako, it's good to see how high the bar has been set so that we can excel beyond that.”
The battle lines were drawn well before the competition in the house of Tūtara Kauika.
Hēpara Tēpa says, “drawing on moko is similar to war paint, it strengthens the body and spirit and puts the men into the right mentality. The most important thing though is that we are calm.”
Most of the men have pūhoro moko, especially done for Te Matatini.
Awanuiarangi Black says, “each of them asked their elders and it was decided. It's a way of showcasing our culture and unique heritage.”
As the bus pulls away, the time is now theirs.