Regional | Australia

Perth group Manawa Mai Tawhiti first to arrive for Te Matatini festival

Groups have started making their way down south.  The majority of the teams are expected here by Tuesday but the first group from Australia has already arrived.

Manawa Mai Tawhiti is feeling a little tired after their long plane trip but they are in high spirits and can't wait to perform.

A call to the first group of 45 who have made their way to Christchurch.

Matt Paki from Manawa Mai Tawhiti says, "It feels great to finally be here in the South Island, to see Aoraki and meet the other top teams."

The team from Perth, Manawa Mai Tawhiti, travelled 5000km this morning.

Their male leader Rapata Hoko says, "(We came early) so we can acclimatise, physically, spiritually and mentally, to living here in Christchurch because this is only the second time Manawa Mai Tawhiti has made it back home.  Coming back early will give us time to adjust to hearing and feeling the sounds of home, the call of the birds, rivers and mountains, and ensure we are prepared."

It hasn't been an easy for Manawa Mai Tawhiti to get to Te Matatini.

Paki explains, "It cost nearly $100,000 for plane tickets, accommodation, bus fares and costumes for our performance.  That's what we were aiming for but our main goal has always been to ensure we hold on to our culture."

Waiariki Paraone from local group Te Ahikōmau says, "Today we welcomed the group from Australia to Te Pā o Rākaihautū.  I really hope they felt the warm welcome from Ngāi Tahu and Te Pā o Rākaihautū."

Te Pā o Rākaihautū will be home for the 40 Perth performers over the next week.  Now it's just a matter of waiting to hit the stage on Thursday.