Four days of quality kapa haka performances came to an end over the weekend (Feb 24) with the naming of Auckland group Te Waka Huia as winners of Te Matatini 2013 National Championship at Rotorua International Stadium.
The 15,000-strong crowd gave Te Waka Huia, which has been competing in Te Matatini since 1986, a standing ovation as they collected their prize from Te Matatini chairman, Selwyn Parata, and the Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae. This year is the fifth time that Te Waka Huia has won the coveted prize, the Duncan McIntyre Trophy.
Third place went to three teams: Tu Te Manawa Murea (Tairawhiti), Te Iti Kahurangi (Waikato) and Whangara Mai Taiwhiti (Tairawhiti). Second place was awarded to Mataatua competitor, Te Whanau a Apanui.
In announcing the winners, Mr Parata congratulated all teams in this year’s competition, adding that the crowd had been treated to quality performances that have raised the bar for future competing kapa haka teams.
"The performers come to Matatini to compete, and it shows in their language, in the execution of each item, and in the quality of their performances, including those who have come to compete for the first time," he said.
Mr Parata also commended the number of new teams competing. "There a real desire from groups in all the rohe (areas) to get involved in kapa haka in their regional competition because that’s the path to this national event. And I can see there’s a strong desire by the performers to improve their knowledge and understanding of te reo me nga tikanga (language and culture).
"At this year’s festival, there has been a real strengthening of identity and relationships, and just an air of positivity and happiness, and everyone can see that in the faces of the performers: they are really enjoying it," he said.
Mr Parata said a lot of effort had gone into preparing for this year’s festival by the team at Te Matatini Society. "You always want to improve on the last festival, and lift every facet of it. It seems to get bigger and bigger every year we hold it. We’ve really added value to this event and improved on its delivery to the public in the two years since it was held in Gisborne."
He added that the carved mahau which framed the stage had been a big hit among the crowd and helped lift the performances from the groups.
The next Te Matatini festival will be held in 2015 in Otautahi (Christchurch).