The Mana Kuratahi Primary Schools kapa haka competition kicks off in Palmerston North tomorrow. Today the competition judges from all across the country were welcome by hosts Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Manawatū.
These 23 judges are tasked with one of the toughest jobs in the competition, over the next four days they will evaluate 47 groups who are all competing for the top spot.
“I commend the 47 groups, their parents, their grandparents, their marae, their teachers and the children themselves. I really hope the kids get on stage and are happy and sing their hearts out,” says kapa haka judge, Ruka Broughton.
Head judge Turuhira Hare is no stranger to the kapa haka world, recently judging at Te Matatini in Christchurch. Turuhira says she prefers judging younger performers.
“Te Matatini is completely different, Te Matatini is the pinnacle of haka, that's perhaps where judges and performers are pushed to the limit. But for this age group the main thing is to nurture the haka inside them,” says Hare.
Palmerston North locals have been preparing for this day for weeks.
Pāhau Arapere from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Manawatū says the excitement is overwhelming, “I know the children are all so excited, the tutors and teachers are all exhausted, and because of the arrival of the judges this morning, it's gotten everyone excited.”
Tomorrow nearly 2,000 haka performers from across country and their supporters will make their way here to Arena Manawatū before the pōhiri which will take place here at 10am.