The Ngāti Kahungunu kapa haka regional competition officially opened today, with the pōhiri welcoming groups to the region. With 14 teams confirmed for this weekend, it's the biggest regional competition Kahungunu has ever hosted.
A big weekend lies ahead for Ngāti Kahungunu as they look to shine on the kapa haka stage.
Organiser Narelle Huata says, "It's such an important event for the wider Ngāti Kahungunu region including Ngāti Ranginui, Wairoa and Wairarapa. We are very happy to be able to celebrate together this Waitangi Day."
Tomorrow, 14 teams will take the stage, all vying for a spot at Te Matatini.
Huata says, "Since the Te Matatini Mauri was handed over by Waitaha, we've really seen an increase in the number of Ngāti Kahungunu lifting their kapa haka game in our region and more groups are participating."
Wairarapa are back on stage after not competing at the regional level since they last hosted it nine years ago.
Marama Fox says, "I wanted to support this group, Te Rangiura o Wairarapa, a group born from the children and former students of TKKM o Wairarapa. They are the ones that composed all the songs. It's just awesome!"
More than 12,000 people are expected to fill the grounds at Hastings Sports Park, and entry is free.