It's the first time that Kawerau has hosted the Rangitaiki Kapa Haka festival, according to the principal of the hosting school, Te Whata Tau o Pūtauaki, Ripeka Lessels who says it's about time something positive has come out of her town. The festival has been going for over 20 years.
Organisers of this event say this competition is a good start for the development of traditional Māori performing arts.
One of the judges Haturiini McGarvey says the children are the stars today.
“They are the leaders of tomorrow who will perform at primary, secondary and Te Matatini competitions,” he says.
Thirteen schools from the Mātaatua-Rangitaiki region participated in today's event with over 800 children performing.
Ngati Awa’s Te Arani Barret says there’s nothing more encouraging about celebrating one's own identity.
”When we come together we promote it because we are a collective and we get excited because it's our kids doing it!
Jade McCorkindale of Tuhoe says,”The purpose of this event is the children, our language, and encouraging kura kaupapa and kura-a-iwi to uphold the teachings of our ancestors.”
The event consists of three sections from novice to entertainment.however, the competition section, which has nine groups, will compete for the right to represent the Mātaatua-Rangitāiki region.
Te Whata Tau o Pūtauaki a Ripeka Lessels says the winning teams will take with them the legacy of their elders from this region
Prize giving is set to begin at 7:30pm tonight.