The standard of competition in the Te Arawa region for this year's kapa haka competition has been electrifying. Eighteen teams battled it out for one of the five spots up for grabs to represent the region at next year's Te Matatini festival in Kahungunu.
18 teams battle it out for a spot to represent Te Arawa at Te Matatini.
Tūhourangi, Ngāti Wahiao member Koro Tini told Te Kāea, “Despite being a competition, we are all family because it doesn't matter which group you're in we are all one family within Te Arawa.”
Five teams from Te Arawa will represent the region at Te Matatini.
Te Hikuwai who were established in 2009 and are linked to the Te Arawa hapū of Ngāti Pikiao, and hope to make the top five.
“The main thing is that we have stood as a family, a tribe from Te Kora to Te Wao to Te Mātārae i Ōrehu of Te Rotoiti we represent those areas,” says Arapō Whata , the male leader for Te Hikuwai Arapo Whata.
Organisers had to add extra seating for a capacity crowd of 4000 people after the event sold out. It's a testament to the huge amount of support by Te Arawa for their respective teams.
Piki Thomas from the organising committee said, “It doesn't matter who wins but we want to send the best and strongest teams to the national competition.”
This year, the winning team will be awarded a Memorial trophy dedicated to the late Mauriora Kingi. Mr Kingi was a prominent leader here in Te Arawa who passed away last year. With teams like Te Mātārae i Ōrehu and Ngāti Rangiwewehi who are past winners of Te Matatini competing for a top spot won't be easy.