Topics: Kapa Haka, Te Ihu - Day 1, Te Matatini, Te Reo Māori

Te Ihu performances set a high standard at Te Matatini 2015

By Heeni Brown
  • South Island

The defending champions took to the stage on day one of competition from the Te Ihu pool.  However, there were also groups debuting at Te Matatini who delivered an impressive performance.

Defending champions stamp their ground and while Te Waka Huia have won many national titles, one achievement stands out the most.

Annette Wehi says, when Te Waka Huia first started, only three of the group knew how to speak te reo, now they have kaihaka with te reo coming out of kōhanga, schools, kura kaupapa and wharekura.

It's a rare thing seeing women display mau rākau talent, Renata Curtis encourages all women in the art.

Like the female leaders before them, renowned for leading war parties, Te Pikikōtuku o Rongomai wants to maintain the tradition so that it is never lost.

Renata believes, "There is a small amount of women who utilise these skills and play active roles in mau rākau nowadays, but she wants to encourage Māori women to get involved and revitalise the art, even though it is not seen often in today’s world, she feels there may very well come a time when women are needed for skills in mau rākau."

For the other Te Arawa group Ngāti Rangiwewehi, who missed the last Te Matatini festival, in this competition, they're hoping they have enough to swing their way to the top.

According to Murray Bidois and Dan Vaka of Ngāti Rangiwewehi, the art of the poi  in Rotorua runs in the blood.

For local team Te Ahikōmau a Hamoterangi, the use of greenstone was more than ornamental.

Te Pao a Tahu have a 20-year-old aspiring performing artist who is about to embark on a journey in the field over in London.

James Buchanan of Ngāi Tahu says, “All the kupu in Pākehā words like this are really hard to sing in, but with te reo Māori it's just vowels, so you've got more potential to make more sound."

Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri will be the last to take the stage today, they were finalists at the last Te Matatini Festival.