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“Kapa Haka Gives Us Purpose” Top Kapa Haka Performers Ready To Compete

Twenty-two kapa haka teams, including the current Te Matatini champions, will take to the stage this weekend at the Mātaatua senior regional competitions in the Bay of Plenty, showcasing some of the strongest kapa haka performers in the country.

Te Matatini Mātaatua delegate, Te Kahautu Maxwell says the calibre of kapa haka is strong in the region because performing arts helps to boost morale and is a main form of expression for whānau.

“We come from small towns and villages and most of us live a simple village and Pā life. Kapa haka gives us purpose,” says Te Kahautu.

A research report commissioned by Te Matatini called Ngā Hua a Te Matatini : The benefits of kapa haka to Aotearoa, released in June 2022, found that kapa haka contributed to the mental and physical well-being of performers. The academic report says kapa haka provided a sense of belonging and community and allowed individuals to be “unashamedly Māori.”

“Kapa haka is food for our soul and that’s why it’s a major event in our calendar in Mātaatua.”

The regional competitions are an important precursor to the Te Matatini kapa haka competitions with regional groups competing to vie for a spot at the national bi-annual event.

Reigning Te Matatini champions, Te Whānau ā Apanui, will compete with 21 other teams who whakapapa to Mātaatua waka and who have set a high standard of competitive kapa haka in Aotearoa. Teams from Mātaatua often make it through to the finals at Te Matatini.

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Te Kahautu says that the venue for the Mātaatua regionals will be a highlight, with all 22 groups set to perform on a stage on the beach in Tōrere, a small costal settlement 20 km north east of Opotiki.

“The Mātaatua regionals are an opportunity for our whānau to come together, celebrate our stories, and support the incredible kapa haka talent within our region."

Ngā Whakataetae Kapahaka o Mataatua will be held on 23rd-24th February 2024 at Te One, Tōrere.

The next national Te Matatini event will be held in Ngāmotu/New Plymouth, Taranaki, in February 2025.

© Scoop Media

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