26 Mar 2012

Aboriginal smoking welcome hailed as highlight

7:29 pm on 26 March 2012

The organiser of Australia's biggest kapa haka festival has hailed the Aboriginal welcome as one of the highlights of the show.

A traditional smoking or cleansing ceremony opened the event in Canberra at the weekend, in which eleven roopu competed for places at New Zealand's biggest Maori cultural event.

Three groups - from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria - won spots at Te Matatini in Rotorua next year, where they will represent their Australian state

Chair of Maori Performing Arts Australia Isaac Cotter says there was mutual indigenous respect.

He says the Aboriginal welcome featured smoke from the burning of gum leaf, which cleanses the area so everyone may come together equally and in peace.