The Rangitaiki Festival for primary school students kicks off today in Whakatane.
For over 20 years, the festival has been a pinnacle in the promotion and development of kapa haka and Māori traditional performing arts for students and their families in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.
It has provided an avenue for primary school students to celebrate waiata, kōrero and haka, while allowing tamariki to carry on traditions of their tipuna.
At the competition in 2016 Jade McCorkindale of Tuhoe told Te Kāea, "The purpose of this event is the children, our language, and encouraging kura kaupapa and kura-a-iwi to uphold the teachings of our ancestors."
Judge Haturiini McGarvey also said the tamariki “are the leaders of tomorrow who will perform at primary, secondary and Te Matatini competitions.”
The festival originated from an older celebration that began as far back as the 1960s, when the old people of Rangitāiki and Tūhoe would bring their young people to visit each other's marae and hold mini-performances.
The marae included Kōkōhinau on the Rangitāiki, Waikirikiri and Ngahina at Ruātoki.
Today and tomorrow around 25 groups will compete in two sections, novice and competitive.
This year the festival is being hosted by Whakatane Intermediate at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall. It can be viewed through the live-streamed by TumekeFM here.