East Coast-based group takes out Te Matatini

2:08 pm on 2 March 2017

East Coast-based Kapa Haka group Whāngārā mai Tawhiti has won Te Matatini 2017.

Leaders of Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti.

Whāngārā mai Tawhiti leaders Lavinia Winiata and Derek Lardelli Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

The group hails from Whangara, a small town north of Gisborne which featured as the location for the 2002 film Whale Rider.

Over the past three days, 47 Kapa Haka have done their best to impress the judges, with nine finalists announced yesterday.

The first team to perform this morning was West Auckland team Ngā Tūmanako.

It is the second time the team has made the finals and Ngā Tūmanako male leader Kawariki Morgan said it been a long road with months dedicated to training.

"It was good being back in the finals, it's something you always aspire to in your campaign heading towards Te Matatini, we feel very lucky and very humbled."

Matatini prizegiving officials.

Matatini prizegiving officials. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Ngā Tūmanako are based at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland and most of its performers all went to kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa together.

Mr Morgan said Kapa Haka was something they had always been involved in.

"Performing on the stage in competition is good and it gives us another opportunity to come together, to kōrero Māori.

Also strutting their stuff this morning were 2011 winners Te Mātārae I Õrehu of Rotorua, who are well known for their strong athletic performances.

Te Mātārae I Õrehu after performing, Hastings 2017.

Te Mātārae I Õrehu, after their performance. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Senior member of their group Talei Morrison said lots of work went into making sure they were ready and it all started at home.

"First and foremost we organise our families and making sure our tamariki, parents and grandparents are all looked after before you even get to practise."

Ms Morrison also said they had to be able to embody the vision created by their leader and tutor, Wetini Mitai-Ngatai.

"You don't let those visions down by not being in the physical condition to be able to pull them off."

Other groups which performed today were Te Whānau a Apanui, Te Waka Huia, Tauira mai Tawhiti, Te Iti Kahurangi and the last group was the Rotorua based Tūhourangi-Ngāti Wāhiao.

Crowd at Matatini prizegiving.

Crowd at Matatini prizegiving. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

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