Te Matatini in Wellington: It's been exhilarating, says organiser

7:32 am on 25 February 2019

The chairperson of Te Matatini says having the huge kapa haka festival hosted in Wellington has lifted the competition to new heights.

Taranaki based Hokipera Ruakere and her children were happy to hear songs about Parihaka.

Taranaki based Hokipera Ruakere and her children were happy to hear songs about Parihaka. Photo: RNZ / Leigh-Marama McLachlan

More than 50,000 people went to Te Matatini at Westpac Stadium - the biggest venue the festival has had.

Auckland group Ngā Tūmanako yesterday won the competition, and first-time finalists Te Pikikōtuku o Ngāti Rongomai were placed second.

Te Matatini chairman, Selwyn Parata, next to the organisation's new brand.

Selwyn Parata Photo: RNZ

Te Matatini chairperson Selwyn Parata said having the festival at a premier stadium added to the grand scale of the competition and he thanked the city for its support.

"Every festival has its own ethos and identity and Matatini ki te Ao in the coolest capital in the world here in Wellington has been exhilarating. It's really moved Matatini into a new realm.

"The 46 kapa haka groups that travelled put a lot of work into their items and I haven't heard anybody moaning about anything - not even when it rained. It's been a great venue and everybody's been happy and enjoyed the festival."

Fans have been braving the wet weather at Te Matatini at the stadium in Wellington today as the kapa haka competition closes in on the finals.

Fans braved wet weather to support the festival over the weekend. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

He said the gate takings were similar to the last two events in Hastings and Christchurch. They had hoped for an attendance of 60,000 people and the final numbers would be between 50,000 to 55,000.

There had been a huge emphasis on te reo this year. "We launched our language strategy when we announced the draw... We've made a concerted effort to normalise the language in this Matatini festival. It will carry on into the regionals leading up to another crescendo at Eden Park [in Auckland] in 2021."

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