It's exactly one week to the welcoming ceremony for Te Matatini 2015, at Christchurch in the South Island.
One of the groups who will converge onto the competition stage will be Te Reanga Mōrehu o Rātana, established in 1997. This year the faith-based group's theme will be the physical laws and the spiritual laws.
Maria Whanarere says, “I don't really know the right words to accurately describe the emotion that you can feel here. It's one of religion, of being Māori, being a family, all of those sorts of emotions which have been mixed together in one big pot and it's boiling and overflowing. That's the feeling.”
Taepa Kameta says, “My job is a difficult one because our group has to be ready. If not, well the fault lies with me. That's what some might think anyway, that it's my fault, but I'm prepared to take that.
I told the group 60% of the work is up to them, the other 40% will be left to the Almighty Spirit to guide us.
Yes, it's true we are a church-based group, but not just of the Rātana faith. We have many churches within our group, just like any other group across the country.”
Whanarere says, “I grew up in the Catholic faith and met this Mōrehu man, which inevitably opened my mind to other churches of the country and also the world.”
Kameta says, “If you listen closely to our haka, which will be performed by our men, the main theme of that haka is the prestige of the female which came out of not only Rātana, but across the country.
Although the woman is holding a long club when she comes forth, it is not a challenge, but it's rather a welcome.
It's a long-standing tradition, so the woman who came out to the front at Rātana, her mother had only just handed over the mantel to her and so now she has begun her tenure.”
Justin-Leigh Manuel says, “I grew up at Rātana Pā from when I was a baby running around the group and I had always hoped to stand as part of the group and perhaps one day to become leader.”
Whanarere says, “The level at Te Matatini is a calibre unto itself. I believe it's the highest calibre of all Māori performing arts across the country and indeed the world. In saying that, those in our region are very much staunch to our unique style, the performance style of Aotea, Taranaki, Whanganui, and this is us performing as Mōrehu.”