4 Mar 2015

Stage set for national kapa haka festival

1:16 pm on 4 March 2015

The stage is set, the kapa haka crowds have booked out accommodation, and Hagley Park in Christchurch is the venue for the biggest Māori cultural event in the world - Te Matatini - which begins today with a massive pōwhiri just before midday.

Te Matatini

Te Matatini Photo: RNZ

Thousands of performers and spectators have descended on Ōtautahi for the four day event which is being hosted by Ngāi Tahu with the Ngāi Tūāhuriri hapū carrying out the pōwhiri.

Over the last few weeks, the iwi has been gathering their tribal delicacies from all over Te Wai Pounamu to feed the multitude of visitors expected at the opening ceremony.

Kapa haka groups have been arriving over the last few days and practising their moves to wow the judges, entertain the audience and represent their individual rohe or regions with pride.

And, as well as cultural groups coming from all four corners of the motu, Australian-based roopu are also part of the competition, making Te Matatini a huge pan-tribal international show of Māori performing arts.

It has been 29 years since Waitaha (Canterbury) hosted what then known as the Polynesian Festival.