23 Feb 2015

Motels booked out ahead of Te Matatini

9:34 pm on 23 February 2015

Most motels near Hagley Park in Christchurch are either booked out or have limited accommodation a week out from Te Matatini, the national kapa haka festival.

170414. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Christchurch. Hagley park, where the Oval stadium for the 2015 Cricket World Cup id being built.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Marae in and around the city are also hosting hundreds of manuhiri or guests coming for the event.

Thousands of performers and visitors are coming to Christchurch for the biggest celebration of kapa haka - Te Matatini, which starts with a massive pōwhiri at North Hagley Park on 4 March.

Te Manu Korihi contacted 10 motels within a three kilometre radius of the park.

Four of them were all booked out, five of them said they had limited vacancies, and only one - which charges $450 a night per room - had availability during the entire duration of Te Matatini.

A motel operator on Riccarton Road suggested that it would be better to look for motel vacancies in the outer suburbs of Christchurch.

However, Peter Morrison, the president of the Canterbury branch of the Hospitality Association, said although there was plenty of hotel accommodation, the kapa haka crowds would probably prefer motels over hotels.

"There are still hotel rooms available... I mean we've been very busy now with the world cup cricket, but there are still rooms, hotel rooms available in those dates in March [4th to the 8th]," said Mr Morrison.

"There will be hotel rooms in the city but if it's a thing like kapa haka they're probably looking at motels rather than hotels."

Rangimarie Parata-Takurua

Rangimarie Parata-Takurua Photo: Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism spokesperson Caroline Blanchfield also said there was accommodation in the city, especially at some of the new motels that had recently been built.

"We're expecting 1800 performers in Christchurch plus their supporters and whānau coming in, and so my understanding is, you know a lot of the hotels are taken up with the Te Matatini teams especially out of Australia, [and] a lot of the motels are at capacity," Ms Blanchfield said.

"However, we do have a lot of extra capacity since the earthquake and so we've probably got more motels than we had before."

Ngāi Tahu families are also pitching in to host hundreds of visitors in their own homes.

As part of the tribe's plan to manaaki or look after manuhiri it made grants available to tribal whānau and marae to take in guests.

Rangimarie Parata-Takurua, the project manager and deputy chair of the Waitaha Cultural Committee, which is supporting the event, said although all of the marae in and around Ōtautahi were full, households like hers were taking in billets.

"I do know just from anecdotal evidence that a lot of our whānau are hosting manuhiri in their own homes, including my own home, I've got at least three whānau moving in on us and I'm not quite sure where we're all sleeping, but that's just what you do when the nation is arriving on your doorstep," Ms Parata-Takurua said.

"And for our whānau it's a huge privilege and an honour to have all these visitors coming from all over the country."

The Ngāi Tahu woman said it was a once in a generation opportunity and her iwi was going out of their way to make their guests feel welcome.

Even marae as far south as Temuka, which was two hours drive from Christchurch, were keen to host manuhiri.

Ms Parata-Takurua said the last time the national kapa haka festival was in Ōtautahi was 29 years ago and it would not happen again for another 24 years.

Meanwhile, the mauri or life of Te Matatini was today passed over to the host region.

Four containers arrived on site at Hagley Park to mark the beginning of the site build for the kapa haka festival.

Organisers said the containers held the Te Matatini mahau or porch front, which would be erected to frame the main stage on which 45 kapa haka would perform over the four-day event, starting later next week.

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