Te Matatini organisers blundered by failing to announce the winner of the Reo Maori excellence award until after the national event, the winning team says.
Waikato haka group Motai Tangata rau were announced as the winner yesterday and believe problems with the Matatini competition's marking system are to blame for the delay.
The trophy was supposed to be awarded at the national event, held a month ago in Christchurch.
Group leader Paraone Gloyne said he was disappointed the team was not able to accept the win at Te Matatini, and he had suspicions as to why his team had not been declared winner at the competition.
This year was the first time Te Reo had been listed as an aggregate section - and it was the first time Te Matatini had used the system, which he said marked the item, as well as diction and grammar.
Mr Gloyne, who also tutors the team, said he believed judges may not have been confident in their marks and perhaps did not want to announce the winner immediately.
The group was humbled to be the first winner of the aggregate title, despite the delay.
Te Matatini said in a statement the trophy was inadvertently missed out from the prizegiving last month, which was unintentional and regrettable.