National secondary schools kapa haka champions Raukura were faced with some fierce competition at the Te Arawa regionals today. Eight groups from secondary schools throughout the region took to the stage to compete for the Pine Taiapa Memorial trophy.
Although Raukura performers from Rotorua Boys and Rotorua Girls High were a crowd favourite, they didn't rest on their laurels.
"For us this is a new year, with new goals and a new team, so that's our focus. We're not last year's national champion team, we are committed to this competition," said male leader, Rehua Selwyn.
"That was amazing, as it was my last performance. It was good to perform with my close friends, my brothers and sisters," said female leader Dixie Yates-Francis.
Te Arawa tribal identity, unification, raising confident youth and commemorating haka exponents who've passed on were the main themes.
"These are pathways for the youth to stand, speak, sing and express their views in Māori. Aside from that nothing else matters," said Aramoana Mohi-Maxwell, chairperson of Ngā Pouako o Te Arawa, event's organising committee.
However with Elections only months away, the event has sparked political contention with a Facebook post by Labour candidate Tamati Coffey, after organisers banned political parties from holding a stall at the competition.
"We rang the Electoral Commision, who immediately agreed to come and educate our people about the Elections. We also rang Te Puni Kōkiri, because these are ways to get people informed," said Mohi-Maxwell.
The top four groups will represent Te Arawa at next year's national competition which will be held in Manawatū next year.