One of the biggest events on the Māori calendar, Te Matatini Kapa Haka competition, has been postponed until February 2023.
When the festival does go ahead in fifteen months, all visitors and participants will also have to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Te Matatini chair Selwyn Parata said the decision followed overwhelming concerns from kaihaka about having the competition in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2022.
"The decision was made after getting specialist advice from Māori health experts regarding the current climate of Covid-19 Delta in Aotearoa and the low vaccination rates for Māori," Parata said.
The postponement would give kapa haka teams time to practice, Parata said.
"In 2023, it may not be business as usual, it will be a different world. I think postponing it until then will give our kaihaka and everybody a chance to take a breather and be reinvigorated to have Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata back in Tāmaki Makaurau," he said.
As this is a large scale event, vaccine certificates will be required.
"Te Matatini will require all participants of Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata competition to comply with Covid-19 rules and regulations applicable at the time of the event. Including any requirement to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and provide acceptable proof of vaccination," Parata said.
Parata said the Te Matatini National Board had discussed having the festival in another rohe.
"The festival will remain in Tāmaki Makaurau because the advice from Māori health experts, and predictions of the current vaccination rates across DHBs show that Tāmaki is predicted to be the most vaccinated rohe in Aotearoa," he said.
"Eden Park also has one of the best health and safety procedures and a specific plan for the Te Matatini festival. It is the same health and safety team that worked on America's Cup at the beginning of 2021.
"Moving it to another rohe would have impact on another region's council, iwi, and would mean establishing relationships and organising all the resources that are required to host this major event.
"We have spent a lot of time on relationships with iwi, kapa haka groups, and wider Māori community and businesses in Tāmaki Makaurau. We have done a lot of work with the Auckland Council and others who are keen for this event to happen," he said.
Parata said they are encouraging all whānau and participants to get vaccinated.
"It is for the safety of our tamariki, mokopuna who still cannot get vaccinated. It's for the safety of our whakapapa, our whānau, our communities, hapū and iwi and the safety of all of Aotearoa."
All qualifying kapa haka and judges will remain the same as they currently stand.