Te Matatini, the world's biggest celebration of Maori performing arts, will celebrate its 40th year when it opens at Rotorua International Stadium with a powhiri for the teams and the taonga which they are competing for.
Forty one kapa haka teams from New Zealand and Australia will compete in three competition pools, with teams gaining the most marks, fighting it out in the finals on Sunday.
Executive director Darrin Apanui said that to celebrate the 40th year of the national competition, the largest carving ever made in Aotearoa will frame the stage.
He said the mahau or porch front, which is 30 metres wide and weighs 26 tonnes, took 20 carvers several months to create from huge kauri and totara logs.
He said the carving highlights excellence in static Maori art as well as the performances on stage.
Mr Apanui said it is fitting the mahau, which was carved at the Rotorua Art and Crafts Institute, will be a feature at the kapa haka competition in Rotorua because that is where the event was first held in 1972 and again in 1973.