The judging system used at ASB Polyfest sets the standard for what can be expected at Te Matatini, says long-time judge Pomare Tawhai.
In total more than 40 schools will participate in a series of half-hour sets consisting of 22 categories at Polyfest. These categories are distributed among the 25 judges selected, three of whom are kaimahi of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Te Aupikitanga Ki Te Reo Kairangi kaiako Kimoro Taiepa will be overseeing the haka and Manukura Tāne sections in the first division on Saturday.
Kaiwhakahaere Ako Ruki Tobin will be judging the mita overall divisions for the whakaeke entrance items, the waiata ā ringa performances and the haka.
Pomare, who is a Te Arataki Manu Kōrero kaiako, will be across all divisions too, though his job will be to judge the mita of the Mōteatea, Mau Rākau, Haka Taparahi and the Whakawātea items.
Pomare says he's been a judge for at least the last six years, but along with his responsibilities judging Manu Kōrero, Ahurea and Ahurei, he's a bit hazy on the actual figure.
"I've been to so many I've lost count," he says.
"But at the end of the day it's about the rangatahi and I'm there to support what they're doing. It's enlightening to know we have the talent onstage and that the reo drives on through them.
Pomare competed at Te Matatini in 1975 and since then says he's picked up a few tricks to help along the way.
"There's a difference watching on TV and watching it live. When it's live, it's my ears that do the assessment. There's wairua in everything you do and I go by sound. When I feel a waiata, then I look up."
He says with last year's winners, Hoani Waititi, he didn't stop staring throughout the whole performance, to the point that he hadn't even written anything down.
"All the schools, they put a lot of time and effort into Polyfest. They've worked hard for those achievements. It takes a lot of commitment and my hat goes off to all of them," Pomare says.
Behind each of the six stages set up for Cook Islands, Niue, Samoan, Tongan, Diversity and Māori, lies a crew of hard-working volunteers.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa is a major sponsor of the three-day event which features traditional music, dance, costume and speech from not only the Pacific but across the globe. It is now recognised as an important showcase of New Zealand’s diverse cultures and a celebration of youth performance.
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