The Te Mana Kuratahi Primary Schools national kapa haka competition kicked off today at Arena Manawatū in Palmerston North with nearly 3000 locals attending the ceremonial welcome this morning.
The first group of the competition took to the stage.
Te Kura Takawaenga o Te Wharekura o Ruatoki was the first school of the 47 schools from around the country to make their mark on stage. But as explained to Te Kāea, there are some positive of going first.
However, it was the ceremonial welcome consisting of nearly 5000 people that really impressed.
Dressed in their school colours, Arena Manawatū was at full capacity with local iwi Rangitāne hosting the largest pōhiri seen in years.
“The locals have been waiting a long time for this, we were so surprised at how many people there are here today,” explained Denise Marshall from Te Kōmiti Mana Kuratahi.
This year's competition is the largest ever compared to the 2013 nationals held in Tauranga.
Committee chair Jack Te Moana says, "There's a wonderful feeling here this morning, just like the All Blacks yesterday, the students are ready to go."
Te Kura Takawaenga o Te Wharekura o Ruatoki was the first school of the 47 schools from around the country to make their mark on stage.
It's not always easy going first, but there are some positives. Kaiako, Timoti Harawira says, “I’m pleased with our kids' performance, we left it all out on the stage and made our Tūhoe people proud.”
Tomorrow the current champions, Te Wharekura o Rākaumangamanga, and last year's runners up, Te Tira Haka o Maeroa, will take the stage.