24 Feb 2017

Another 16 teams take to the stage at national kapa haka festival

From Checkpoint, 6:25 pm on 24 February 2017

The second pool of 16 kapa haka teams have taken to the stage at Te Matatini national kapa haka festival today.

One of those groups is Te Rerenga Kōtuku, the Hawkes Bay team representing their iwi Ngāti Kahungunu.

Their longtime leader, JB Smith, has decided to hang up his piupiu after performing today. He said today will be his last performance on the national stage.

The 55-year-old said he performed at the first festival hosted by his iwi in 1983 and today was very special for him.

"This is my last, I went from Kahungunu to Kahungunu so I can retire gracefully."

He said he was getting too old and it was time to focus on his kids and his mokos. 

When the Prime Minister Bill English dropped into the festival today, he was not willing to say which group he liked the most but he did know that many of the waiata and haka were about his government.
"It's great to see the strength in the team work and the excellence in the performance, as well there is a lot of stories been told here and some of them are aimed at the government. It's a window into what's best about New Zealand."
He said he accepts the wero that many groups are putting in front of him.

"I can pick up enough words to know what's going on and we are keen to pick up the challenges."
The third and final pool of 16 groups will perform tomorrow and the top nine groups who make it through to the finals on Sunday will also be announced.