25 Feb 2017

Volunteers crucial at Te Matatini

5:45 pm on 25 February 2017

Thousands of people have filled Sports Park in Hastings for Te Matatini National Kapa Haka competition.

Thousands have flocked to this year's Te Matatini National Kapa Haka competition in Hastings.

Thousands have flocked to this year's Te Matatini National Kapa Haka competition in Hastings. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Today the final pool of 16 groups will perform and later tonight the nine teams who will go through to the finals tomorrow will be announced.

Hundreds of people have volunteered to ensure the festival runs smoothly.

Māori Land court judge and presiding officer for the Waitangi Tribunal, Craig Coxhead, is one of those volunteers.

He's working as a stage hand and said his main job was to look after the performers as they waited to take the stage.

"They've spent months getting ready for this day so we want to make sure that they're stress free, trouble free, and we invited them in, make sure that they're ready, bring them to the stage and the most important thing is to make sure they are on stage at the right time and ready to go."

Piki Thomas (left) and Craig Coxhead.

Piki Thomas (left) and Craig Coxhead. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Mr Coxhead said behind the scene every group had their own way of preparing.

"In the tents some teams like to do press ups and sit ups to get that final tone, some are grabbing protein shakes and other teams are very calm.

"By the time they get to the stage they are pretty quiet and you can feel that tension and see the fire in their eyes and they're ready to unleash."

Even though he's a judge he said he'd hate to be a judge presiding over this competition.

"They've got to make hard decisions, my day job also involves hard decisions but they've got a lot of people around them and good luck to them on getting out of here safe."

He said it was an easy decision to volunteer his time.

"We're just bringing that manaaki [support] that we do in our daily lives to the stage here for our kaihaka [performer]."

Te Matatini, crowd in front of the stage.

Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs