On a glorious Hawke’s Bay morning, they came in their thousands to watch the beginning of what promises to be four days of the highest quality kapa haka to be seen.
The haka pōwhiri by host iwi Ngāti Kahungunu to welcome the 47 teams to Te Kahu o Te Amorangi Te Matatini 2017 was held at Napier’s McLean Park to provide the best viewing conditions for the crowds.
And it was a view worth taking in as 500 Ngāti Kahungunu whānau created a stunning haka pōwhiri which in many ways reflected the haka pōwhiri presented the last time the iwi hosted the event, nearly 30 years ago.
Ngāti Kahungunu events manager Te Rangi Huata says McLean Park was favoured for the haka pōwhiri as it was also the only venue capable of hosting that number of people and also providing shade, an important factor on a day without a cloud in the sky.
“The issues other places had is because it’s flat you can’t see, it’s only the people in the front row, about 5%, that will see. Here 100% of people will see and like everything else, you’ve got to be there to feel it.”
Kīngi Tuheitia led the manuhiri onto McLean Park, where defending champs Te Whānau a Apanui, who are intent on going back to back over the next four days, set the scene for a memorable occasion. Rather than returning the Duncan McIntyre Trophy themselves, it was returned by Te Waka Huia in remembrance of their late tutors Ngāpo and Pimia Wehi.
Te Matatini moves from Napier to Hastings today with three days of pool competition followed by the finals on Sunday. Along with being a strategic partner and proud sponsor of Te Matatini, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has many tauira and kaimahi performing in teams.