Thousands have converged onto Mclean Park for the first day of the Te Matatini that is held in Hastings. Today hosts Ngāti Kahungunu opened the event with the official pōwhiri ceremony that saw Te Whānau a Apanui give Te Waka Huia the honour of handing over the prestigious Duncan McIntyre trophy.
Defending champions Te Whānau a Apanui return the prestigious Duncan McIntyre trophy but this time with a twist. The role was given to the Wehi whānau to return the trophy in honour of their father Dr Ngapo Wehi.
Te Whānau a Apanui leader Tamati Waaka told Te Kāea, “With Te Waka Huia bringing the memory of their founder it was fitting that we support them because most people know of his strong ties to Te Whakatōhea, Tūhoe and tribes in Gisborne but his genealogy with us is just as important.”
Powerhouse group Te Waka Huia are the only other team to win two senior national titles consecutively and Te Whānau a Apanui are now aiming to do the same this time round.
“This is the challenge of all challenges because all eyes are on your group. Sometimes it's better to come into this competition without a name.”
The last time Kahungunu hosted the festival in 1983, Te Arawa team Ngāti Rangiwewehi won. The region heads into this competition with the kawemate of Reverend Napi Tutewehiwehi Waaka, his daughter Jojo Waaka, Mauriora Kingi and Mita Mohi.
Te Arawa Judge Hohua Mohi says, "That's all of Maoridom we've all had so many deaths. For us, in Te Arawa we come mourning the death of others and there are so many that I am scared to miss out a name."
The competition is now officially opened and tomorrow the first Pool of 15 teams will take the Matatini stage.