Forty-five groups from throughout New Zealand and Australia will represent their iwi at the four-day festival, which is expected to attract up to 30,000 participants, supporters and spectators. The 40 or so performers in each group will be matched by a roughly equal number of supporters whose roles include cheerleading and babysitting.
EIT academics are included in three of the four groups representing Ngāti Kahungunu at the celebration and showcase for Māori performing arts. Similarly, up the coast, EIT has staff in two of the four groups representing Te Tairāwhiti.
A performer in the Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga group, EIT’s Māori and Pacific Island liaison advisor Lee Kershaw-Karaitiana says composing waiata for the event involves a significant amount of research.
“These are sacred discussions which encompass stories about history and the background of historical figures in an iwi,” Lee says of songs specially written to perform at the festival.
The waiata will encompass a group’s entrance onto the stage, the mōteatea (a traditional song used at significant occasions such as tangihanga), the action song waiata ā-ringa, the poi, the haka ringa, which will typically focus on current issues, and finally the whakawātea which concludes the bracket and accompanies the performers as they exit from the stage.
“A lot of time and effort goes into composing these different elements,” Lee says. “It can take perhaps four months for research and composition and the same again to perfect the harmonies and choreography to prepare for 25 minutes on stage.”
EIT staff taking part include Professor Derek Lardelli, from Toihoukura, the School of Māori Visual Arts and Design on the Tairāwhiti campus in Gisborne, who is leading Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti.
Matewai Timu-Fosio, a lecturer at EIT Hawke’s Bay ’s Te Ūranga Waka, will lead the Pareārau group and new staff member Jackie Ham is also a member of this group.
Others taking part include EIT director Māori Tuhakia Keepa, Te Whatukura’s Joe Pihema and Tairāwhiti Toi Reo lecturer Ruth Smith (all in Ngāti Porou’s Waihirere group), Te Ūranga Waka lecturer Parekura Rohe-Belmont (Te Rerenga Kōtuku, winner of the Kahungunu regional competition), IT services administrator Rudolph Tuhura (Te Tū Mataora from Rangitāne) and EIT Hawke’s Bay fashion design student Te Orihau Karaitiana (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga).
The number of groups representing an iwi varies, with up to six groups entered from larger iwi.
“It’s about whānau and being together,” Lee says of Te Matatini. “People really look forward to it. It’s about commitment and love. You are representing your iwi, so a lot rests on your shoulders.”
Ngāti Kahungunu is to host the 2017 Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival, an event expected to inject up to $40m into the Hawke’s Bay economy.