Despite the endless hours of haka practice, and the amount of homework, youth are filling up the stage at this year's competition.
Each group are only allowed to have 10 High School students, or no more than 25% of youth may be part of any one group. While many are only starting out at Te Matatini level, they're already aiming for their day in the spotlight.
They might be young, but they are making their mark on the front line.
Caitlin Hemi of Te Reanga Mōrehu o Rātana says, “Im only 16, It's really nerve racking because I want to do the best for my rōpū, making sure I don't muck up and make a mistake, drop my poi.”
Old is out, new is in and Tawa Kershaw of Manutaki says. “I'm 17-years-old, it's my first time to perform at Te Matatini, it's huge and I'm a junior in the group too. I'm happy to be learning this about the performing arts with them.”
Hātea weren't afraid to bring their rangatahi on to stage or send them back to school. If their students want to haka, they have to do their homework.