In a plain motel in an equally plain suburb of Napier yesterday morning, Chantelle Nikora is complaining about Hiria Mihaka’s drawing skills.
“It’s crooked,” she says, looking in the mirror at the moko kauae Hiria has just inked onto her chin.
She wipes it off and heads off to find a better artist but it takes a few more attempts before she’s happy with the end result.
The pair take equal care over their hair and dress before declaring themselves ready to board the bus to the venue of Te Kahu o Te Amorangi Te Matatini 2017.
The two women are members of Rotorua kapa Te Pikikōtuku o Ngāti Rongomai, along with being kaimahi at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Chantelle is the Advisor Tauira Support, Youth at the Raroera Campus in Kirikiriroa while Hiria is a kaiako of Te Ara Reo Māori Level 4 in Rotorua.
With a performance time of 1.12pm, it was an early start for the rōpū, with the men taking as much care of their appearance as the women and preparations beginning at 6.30am.
Chantelle says the performance – focussed largely on addressing the tragedy of youth suicide – is the culmination of many months of work for everyone in the group and the last week had been all about fine tuning their performance.
“We’ve had a cruisy ride here. We came down on Tuesday and on Tuesday night had a bit of a blow-out and a 100% run through. We changed some little things and cut our time down a little more just to be on the safe side. On Wednesday we had another run through to sharpen those last little things. We’re ready to smash it.”
Hiria – who has been with the rōpū for three years – says they had been looking forward to today’s performance for months.
“It’s game day, we’re ready,” she says.“All that work comes down to this and I can’t wait.”