Kahungunu pōhiri wows the motu

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

It's the first time Ngati Kahungunu has hosted Te Matatini in 34 years and today they welcomed thousands into the region.

But what was special about today's official welcome is that it reflected the regions pohiri from 1983 when they last hosted the competition.

"This hasn't been here in 34 years in '83 it was last here, back then it was called the Polynesian Festival but now we know it as Te Matatini, it's been two years of extremely hard work from the iwi to make this a success for everyone," says Ngāti Kahungunu kaiwero Paora Sharples.

A welcome that incorporated elements of the 1983 pohiri designed to pay homage to the many Kahungunu composers and their most iconic songs that have become national favourites.

"This is a time for our tribe to learn our tikanga and our very ancient knowledge so that it won't ever disappear," says kaihaka JB Heperi-Smith

At least 500 kaihaka adorned in their traditional flax attire, dyed a deep blue, created history today for their iwi.

"We are so fortunate to be able to represent our iwi Ngāti Kahungunu and do the proud, there have been so many practices and so much organising of the attire and effort gone into the pohiri and everything else too," says performer Te Hurutea Tahuri.

Day one of the competition will get underway tomorrow as a record 47 teams are set to take the stage.