22 Feb 2019

Personal performance of 'incredible' waiata at Te Matatini for PM

9:18 am on 22 February 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has joined thousands of people in Wellington enjoying some of the best haka performances in the world.

Jacinda Ardern at Te Matatini

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mingles with students. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Te Matatini, the national kapa haka competition has kicked off in Wellington at Westpac Stadium.

Before the prime minister arrived, one of the groups, Te Iti Kahurangi, had performed a song about her daughter Neve.

They gave Ms Ardern a personal performance of the mōteatea, or traditional chant in the changing rooms.

The waiata was about the story of Neve's birth and great Māori leaders of national significance.

"It was an incredible piece and to have that performed personally was incredible," Ms Ardern said.


Te Iti Kahurangi performing at Te Matatini. Photo: Supplied / Te Matatini, Aotearoa Kapa Haka Limited

She said the event was of national significance and more support was needed for performers during the two years in between festivals.

"We've got two years now to make sure it's well supported in the next competition in Auckland," Ms Ardern said.

Jacinda Ardern at Te Matatini

Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

About 46 groups will perform over the next three days hoping to be one of the top-nine finalists who will perform again on Sunday.

People were lining up as early as 5am, two hours before the gates opened to get a seat on the grass right in front of the stage.

Keepa Smith travelled from Australia to be at the competition and support the two Australian teams performing on Saturday.

He said he arrived at the gates at 4.30am to ensure he got a good spot.

The festival has become a meeting place for many and is dotted by hundreds of stalls and exhibitions.

Haka has been seen as a vehicle for people to learn te reo Māori and the organisers have provided a translation service for people so they can understand what is being sung on stage.

Haka translation services can be accessed at www.hakatranslate.nz or by downloading the Te Matatini app.

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