The world’s largest biennial kapa haka festival is being held this year in Ōtautahi (Christchurch). Te Matatini began as the Polynesian Festival in 1972. The famous rōpū (group) Waihīrere won that year and are still performing today.
There will be 45 kapa standing on the atamira (stage) this year over the three competition days. The rōpū will have spent months training to deliver a 25-minute show. Preparations as a performer include becoming physically fit, eating healthily, learning words and actions, poi, haka, weaponry and choreography.
Each rōpū will perform seven different types of waiata (songs):
- waiata-ā-tira – choral singing
- whakaeke – choreographed entry
- mōteatea – traditional chants or dirges
- poi – movement with poi (ball attached to string)
- waiata-ā-ringa – action song
- haka – war dance
- whakawātea – choreographed exit.
Each of these waiata showcases a different skill. My favourite is the whakaeke.
Waiata performance is only one of many things being judged; a few others include te reo Māori (the Māori language), composition, male/female leader and costume. The top scoring three teams from each competition day will perform again in the finals. My guaranteed four picks are crowd favourites …
- Te Waka Huia
- Te Whānau a Apanui
- Te Matarae I Orehu
- Te Pou o Mangataawhiri
And I hope one Kahungunu group.
This year, if you can’t be at Te Matatini, you can watch it live via Māori Television’s Te Reo channel.