24 Feb 2017

Manaakitanga at fore for kapa haka organisers

4:09 pm on 24 February 2017

Hundreds of volunteers are working hard behind the scenes as the second day of national kapa haka festival Te Matatini gets under way.

Members of Ngā Pou o Roto after coming off stage.

Members of Ngā Pou o Roto after coming off stage at Te Matatini in Hastings Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Sixteen groups are taking the stage today, including the first local group of the area, Te Rerenga Kōtuku, and current champions, Te Whānau ā Apanui.

Mōtai Tangata Rau, of Waikato Tainui, performed this morning and leader Paraone Gloyne said he was pleased with the group's performance.

"We've done very well, we gave our best, I believe, and we did justice to our ancestors, our tūpuna, that I wrote about in our items. What more can you do? And at the end, you know that your best or worst critic is yourself."

Te Rerenga Kōtuku performer JB Smith and his daughter at Te Matatini in Hastings on 24 February 2017.

Te Rerenga Kōtuku performers, after being up on stage Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

There are 47 groups performing at the competition - the biggest since the competition started in 1972 - but only nine teams will make the finals on Sunday.

Host iwi Ngāti Kahungunu last hosted the haka spectacle 34 years ago, and were making the most of hosting it again.

The action on the stage attracts thousands to the event, and it takes many hands behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Traci Tuimaseve and his team .

Traci Tuimaseve and his team Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Traci Tuimaseve of Ngāti Kahungunu - the event's project manager - said there would be 500 volunteers helping over the duration of the festival

Mr Tuimaseve said for him and his team it was all about manaakitanga, which started before people even arrived, with free buses and free fruit and vegetable donated by local growers at the gate.

They had also been looking after all the performing teams by helping them find accommodation and giving all the marae hosting them food, so they could feed them as well.

Ngāti Kahungunu also brought 20,000 tickets to ensure their iwi members would be able to attend.

Chair Ngahiwi Tomoana said being the hosts had been a lot of work, but it had also reunited the iwi.

"People from all over the world have come home to help, so it's like a really big marae hui, but on a majestic scale. It's a reuniting of people, whānau and friends and reuniting people with their whenua. It has been a great uplift for our iwi's mauri."

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