A leading exponent of kapa haka says she expects people to flock to a new qualification for judges of Māori performing arts.
The Post Graduate Certificate in Assessing Te Reo Māori in a Competitive Environment begins at the University of Waikato next week.
Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival is funding ten scholarships for judges to study the intricacies of the language used in performances.
The co-leader of five-time national champions Te Waka Huia, Annette Wehi said the qualification reflected the exponential growth in kapa haka at all levels across the country.
"In the past we had four people that would judge 45 teams and in the recent Te Matatini Festival we had 26 judges," she said.
"Because the emphasis has come more on the quality of the judging in terms of say iwi variation, so you are looking at 45 kapa haka from all across the country and the judges having the capacity to understand the subtleties between each of those regions, and also having a greater understanding on the different language styles that are used in a traditional chant or waiata and how that is different to the formal language that we hear on the marae, the poetic licence that we might use in the composition of a poi."
Annette Wehi said the course teachers, Professor Pou Temara and Senior Tikanga Lecturer Te Kahautu Maxwell have each been judging for more than 30 years, and their knowledge would be highly sought after.
Te Kahautu Maxwell said the course would have a theoretical and a practical component, and was aimed at current and aspiring judges.
"A number of senior judges, some who don't need it, have signed up and that will be good for mentoring for emerging judges to sit shoulder to shoulder with some senior judges."
Last year the University of Waikato signed an agreement with Te Matatini to develop and enhance Māori performing arts.