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Bay Locals Keys to Million Dollar Manawatu Event

Hawke’s Bay Locals Keys to Million Dollar Manawatu Event

Te Matatini National Festival, 24th -27th February, Palmerston North

Two Hawke’s Bay brothers, both active advocates for Maori performing arts are members of the executive committee behind Te Matatini National Festival. Tama Huata, founder of Hastings based Kahurangi Dance Theatre is the Chairman while Te Rangi, event manager and fireworks whiz, is artistic director for the event.

The Festival is expected to pump millions of dollars into the Manawatu region.

Entrusted with the task of re-shaping and staging the most eagerly awaited biennial Maori performance event, they’ve been an integral part of giving the national festival a ‘new look’.

With the ‘best of the best’ kapa haka competition at its core, the four day event is expected to draw 40,000 people and $5 million into the city. In all, 29 teams comprising 1200 performers from 14 regional competitions (including Australia) will compete for the coveted kapa haka title.

Palmerston North Mayor Heather Tanguay describes the festival to be held in Arena Manawatu, as "an absolutely momentous and prestigious event for the city. The whole region is enormously proud to host it.”

On 24th February, the result of twelve months planning explodes into action with an opening powhiri of over one thousand performers, a colourful pageant and a fireworks display.

What follows are three event packed days in which festival goers will have to choose between a diverse and exciting programme line up - the kapa haka competition on the main stage, the youth and world indigenous acts on smaller stages, the exhibition space or the food hall.

This is the new-look sought by Te Matatini organisers and the first time the festival has broadened its scope to include contemporary and international performances.

Speaking for the Te Matatini executive committee, Tama Huata says, “The heart of the festival remains as it always was: the celebration and honouring of kapa haka but our vision is larger. Our goal is to make the festival a premier international event. We want the world to see the full extent of our ‘best of the best’.”

He says, “The full programme is a smorgasbord of talent ranging from the traditional Maori arts of performance plus ta moko, weaving and carving to contemporary group and solo artists, each skilled and recognised in their area.”

Te Rangi says an Education Day for school groups on February 25 is a fantastic example of how the Palmerston North community has embraced the Festival. Under Te Manawa’s (Manawatu Museum) guidance, an enormous interactive sculptural centre-piece honouring the host iwi, Rangitane has been built in one of Arena Manawatu’s exhibition halls.

Made possible through joint funding from Te Matatini, Palmerston North City Council and Massey University Te Manawa Executive Director, Susan Miller-Theverend says, “This is the largest installation ever undertaken outside of the museum. We are delighted to provide our expertise in this important collaboration.

Visitors will be awe struck by the sculpture’s size, scope and beauty.”

Hawke’s Bay advertising/marketing specialist, Shaun Lines of Grow has co-ordinated and led a team to promote the festival. Linda Roberts of Word and Susan Dugdale wrote text for brochures and programmes as well as liaising with a broad range of media to place releases in national, international and community based newspapers, magazines and on websites. Meredith Barcham of MDesign handled all the graphic design work.

Shaun says, “This is wonderful collaborative exercise. Te Matatini is attracting an enormous amount of media interest both here and overseas to the extent that Tourism NZ is hosting a large international delegation to the event. We are delighted to play a part in putting excellence across the full spectrum of Maori performance art in the forefront of the nation and the world.”

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