In a united front, Ngāti Kahungunu are preparing to welcome the world’s elite kapa haka teams and fans to Te Kahu o Te Amorangi senior national kapa haka competition Te Matatini 2017 at Mclean Park in Napier today. The welcoming ceremony will include a kaiwero specialist team, a massive welcoming crew and a paepae full of expert orators.
Kingi Tuheitia will be at the forefront of the visiting contingent, alongside the 47 teams set to compete, the largest number of groups at any Te Matatini festival.
Defending champions Te Whānau-a-Apanui will be among those returning to the 23rd competition.
Groups across the competition are expected to pay tribute to Ngāpo and Pimia Wehi and other key figures of Te Ao Māori who have passed in the last two years, including one of the founding members of Te Matatini- Reverend Te Napi Tutewehiwehi Waaka, former inaugural Te Matatini Chair Tama Huata and former judges Mauirora Kingi, Te Awanuiarangi Black and Matiu Dickson.
The festival is estimated to cater to 50,000 spectators and performers.
iTicket confirmed with Te Kāea that 27,000 tickets have sold so far.
Some tickets were also given to Ngāti Kahungunu, according to figures from the 17th February. 18,000 had been sold at a discounted price to low-income families, kaumatua and kuia. Some were also given away as prizes to youth.
The Paua club has reached full capacity, with customers paying $1000 for a luxury experience, with a total of 250 tickets sold. Those wanting to get in on the second-tier with the VIP $500 club still have a chance as only 510 tickets have sold and remaining places are limited.
Door sales are also still available and can be purchased at the competition venue at Kahungunu Park in Hastings. The first team Te Manu Huia are set to kick the competition off at 8:40am tomorrow morning.
Wikitōria Day and Kimiora-Kaire Melbourne will cross live to our website from the pōhiri to provide the latest updates as it begins.
Heeni Brown is also broadcasting live to the Te Kāea Facebook page from the venue as preparations continue.