The arrival of four containers on site at Hagley Park in Christchurch this morning has signalled the final passing over of the Te Matatini mauri to Waitaha and the beginning of the site build for the national kapa haka festival stage.
This means that the stage front, which will be the platform for the 45 groups from across the country, can finally be built.
With just over a week to go, preparations are well underway here at Hagley Park.
Selwyn Parata says, “Te Matatini has finally arrived here in Christchurch, in Ngāi Tūahuriri. It's been nearly 30 years since Te Matatini was here in Christchurch and now it's back. Te Matatini is here with the stage front that was created by Te Puia and Te Matatini and was first erected in 2013 at the festival in Te Arawa.”
The stage front spans 30 metres, is over 13 metres high and weighs 26 tonne. The carvings represents all tribes throughout the country.
Karl Johnstone, the Director of New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute says, “It’s assembled into three pieces and it represents all of the iwi mai ngā hau e whā, it’s all the representation and the styles of the different regions throughout the motu.”
Chairman of Ngāi Tahu Mark Solomon admits the tribe is nervous ahead of the event, but is looking forward to the challenge.
Jointly owned by Te Matatini Society Incorporated and the NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, it is one of the largest Māori carvings in New Zealand.
Parata says, “Now it's time to get excited and to get pumped, but I know many haka groups around the country are still practising and preparing. They're ready for the amazing event.”
With the official countdown now underway, there are only nine days left until it's all hands on deck here in Christchurch.