Hundreds of tamariki from 62 schools have converged in Hamilton for Te Mana Kuratahi, the National Primary Schools Kapa Haka Competition.
The five-day event will showcase the country's top rangatahi performers from 17 regions across the country.
Tamariki Toa o Te Pouahi from Nelson was the first group to take to the stage today, quickly stunning audiences with their solo-singers during their waiata tira.
Fourteen groups will perform on today's first day of the competition.
Tamariki from te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa will perform on Wednesday, after training hard for the last six months.
Tutor Lily Arahanga said they were already feeling the nerves.
"Half of the group are babies, year three, four and five. They're feeling a bit nervous, and our senior kids are really feeling it," she said.
"Hopefully they learn from what they see on the stage, that it's a competition, not just a game."
It will be Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa's second national competition ever, after performing for the first time with the top teams in Gisborne two years ago.
Ms Arahanga said they want to command the stage and compete against the best groups, but more importantly, be proud to be Māori.
"I hope they take away with them that they are proud of being Māori, and hopefully strengthen their reo," she said.
"I hope they appreciate being a part of this kaupapa Māori."
The winners will be announced on Friday.