Today is the first full day of performances at the Primary School Kapa Haka National competition in Palmerston North.
Seats in Arena Manawatū today were filled to the brim as current champions Te Wharekura o Rākaumangamanga and last year's runners-up Te Tira Haka o Maeroa took to the stage. Some also calling this the toughest day of the competition, both for the judges and the performers.
Rākaumangamanga hit the stage looking to impress once again. Keihana Kingi-Takoko, the former leader of the group and now tutor, says he understands the pressures the children are under.
Keihana Kingi-Takoko says, “First, our name is a huge burden to carry. Second, it's always hard for kids this age to perform in front of a crowd because we all know who to look out for. We know Waititi will be there, so what will they bring?”
It was an experienced young Waiora Falwasser of Te Tira Haka o Maeroa will never forget. “I was so scared. I was thinking to myself, don't muck it up,” she said.
Tomorrow, performances will continue with last year's third place winners Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai taking to the stage.