The opportunity to showcase dance skills and earn NCEA credits is encouraging more Maori to take part in Auckland's Polyfest.
The 39th Maori and Pasifika secondary schools cultural festival has six stages.
Entries for teams to the Maori stage increased from 47 last year to 51 this year, resulting in Wednesday's schedule having to be extended by nearly two hours.
Tumuaki Rumaki of Nga Puna o Waiorea, Chris Selwyn, says the growing popularity is due to a combination of factors such as NCEA accreditation for performance.
He says kapa haka has become a more traditional part of the school curriculum and a high level of involvement from teachers and whanau is encouraging students to engage.
Mr Selwyn says the talent and development of Maori choreography and composition has come a long way since the festival began in 1976 and Polyfest opens doors for tauira to a career in performing arts.