National | Haka

Why Māwai Hakona matter at Te Matatini 2019

Wellington’s only haka group to win the Duncan McIntyre Trophy is set to be a part of this year's Te Matatini festival.

Upper Hutt based group Māwai Hakona will feature two of their songs at Waitangi Park to welcome the 46 teams performing at the four-day event.

Female leader Hinemanuhiri Poa says Te Matatini ki Te Ao is going to be "absolutely gob-smacking".

"We have already recorded songs to help performers to sing our songs," she says.

The group won in 1973 when Te Matatini went under another name Polynesian Festival and their prize tour was opening the Sydney Opera House later that year, attended by Queen Elizabeth II.

“At the nationals, that was the one we won to go to Rotorua. We got some really good comments from the judges with that competition. We were just blown away”

Former tutors for Māwai Hakona, Jock McEwin and Dovey Hovarth, were both instrumental in reviving Māori culture and traditions for Māori and non-Māori in Wellington.

Adam Langford who was born and bred in the UK said he was excited to be part of a group that excelled in Māori history.

“Such an incredible privilege for an Englishman, eh?”

The team has toured around the world to promote haka. However, they no longer take part in many events as many have retired.