Hikurangi, a former Anglican church choir and haka group from Ruatoria, situated under the gaze of the ancestral mountain from which they take their name, compete at Matatini this year for the first time after qualifying at Tamararo 2016 in third place.
“We’re all very excited about the journey to Matatini," says the group's communications manager Erana Keelan-Reedy, "It’s so positive for our whanau, our marae, our hapū, our community and it’s an opportunity to celebrate who we are on a national stage.
"Everyone in this group is related to the original members of Hikurangi. We’re very proud of our long history and all have a nanny, papa, aunty or uncle who were members of the choir. This year is even more significant because it marks the 150th birthday of Hikurangi.”
She said the group are relatively young but very fortunate to be learning from a local doyen of haka, Kuini Moehau.
“Aunty Kuini was taught by her mum, aunties and nannies and is passing that knowledge on to her mokopuna," says Keelan-Reedy, "Most of our team are fresh to competitive haka – we all jostle for the front row at the marae and can put up a great performance with no practice, but Matatini is a different kettle of fish. We’ll put our best foot forward but I guess it’s all up to the judges at the end of the day.”
About 40 groups will take the stage at Matatini this year and they’re the best Aotearoa has to offer. So the aim for Hikurangi is to be the very best version of themselves and see where that takes them.
While Matatini is being held just down the East Coast in Hastings it’s still a huge cost to transport 40 performers to the event and provide food and accommodation. So this weekend Hikurangi are holding a fundraiser the day before Waitangi Day in Ruatoria, kicking off at 10am.
Attendees be given an exclusive performance from the group and an opportunity to win a $1,000 Housie ‘super’ prize afterwards- with heaps of raffles on sale to help the descendants of the former Hikurangi choir get to Matatini.
Hikurangi will take the stage on Day 3 of the national competition from 22nd to 26th February in Hastings.