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Pride, Passion In Biggest Powhiri For Over 20 Yrs.



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‘Pride and passion in biggest powhiri for over 20 years'

When Matewai Timu was a little girl, she aspired to be like her Aunty and the other women in her kapa haka group.

When she was offered the opportunity to take the leading female role in Thursday’s opening Takitimu Festival powhiri ``Aunty was right there next to me and that was really special'', Matewai says.

The powhiri will feature around 2000 performers to welcome such dignitaries and visitors as the Maori king (Kingi Tuheitia) and kaumatua from places as far afield as Hawaii, the Cook Islands, Rarotonga, Samoa and even the tiny Maupiti Islands in French Polynesia.

The last powhiri of this size was performed in 1986 during Queen Elizabeth II's visit.
``I now have girls come up to me, with looks on their faces saying, `I want to be just like you','' Matewai smiles.

``That's what I think it's all about, that cycle of the culture.''

Matewai will lead the powhiri alongside choreographer and tutor John Barry (JB) Smith who has spent nearly four months travelling around the North Island teaching the performance.

``We're creating history here so it is so crucial that we get it right,'' he says.

The kokiri (challenge) will be laid to visitors by seven groups of five people in arrow formation, backed up by the other performers.

``The kokiri says to them, in one way, `come here'. But it is also a challenge and is a tribute to them - to honour them,'' JB says.

Planning and teaching the powhiri has not been easy for JB, but he says he has enjoyed the job.
``It has been really neat working with all the different groups - and a real highlight to go to the schools and kapa haka groups and getting to know them,'' he says.

The powhiri will comprise the initial kokiri, followed by a tuhungarahu (haka).

The women in the group will then come forward, performing a karanga (welcome).

After a number of speeches a final mataki (challenge) will be laid for Kingi Tuheitia.

Organising the largest powhiri for more than 20 years is a daunting task but JB has taken it in his stride whilst still understanding the significance of what is being done.

``It's a big time for us but I've got big shoulders. Teaching kaumatua has been a well respected role,'' he says.

``The good thing is we're bringing people together,'' he says.

Acknowledgements to: Andrew Neal
Journalist Hawke's Bay Community Newspapers (Hastings Leader)
027 415 0843
(06) 873 0800 ext. 8846
This Panui was approved by the Communication Manager for iwi dissemination. For more information see the Hastings Leader or purchase a Hawke’s Bay Today Newspaper everyday this week!! Or visit the website:

Kind Regards

Ruth Wong Communication Manager

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