The hottest kapa haka talent in Mātaatua is on display today, as the best in the region compete for one of four qualifying spots at next year’s national competition.
Ten groups stretching from Tauranga in the west, Ruatoki in the south and east to Whangaparaoa will take the stage.
Six hundred people are expected to fill the Whakatāne War Memorial Hall in a sold-out event which began on Wednesday afternoon with the pōhiri.
The first group up is Bethlehem based Te Manu Taupua o Mauao. As Te Wharekura o Mauao’s second team, this gives their year 9 and 10 students an opportunity to experience competitive kapa haka.
Te Kura o Taoroa (Trident High School), tutored by Te Kaapo Whauwhau, Area Whauwhau and Rangipo Ihakara, are second up.
The third group of the day is Te Whānau a Apanui, a combination of students from Te Kura o Te Whānau a Apanui in Te Kaha and Te Kura Mana Māori o Whangaparaoa based at the foot of Tihirau mountain.
They are followed by Te Manukatūtahi (Whakatane High School), Kura Ki Uta (Opotiki College), Te Tauranga o Ngā Waka (Tauranga Boys & Girls College), Te Kaiwhakatere (Edgecumbe College) and Otumoeatai College from Tauranga who return to the fold after a ten-year hiatus.
Returning runners up, Te Reo Whakakoko o Mauao precede the returning champions, Te Wharekura o Ruatoki.
The event is being live streamed by local Māori radio station Tumeke FM, who will also broadcast the prize giving later today.
The national secondary schools kapa haka competition will be held in Auckland in 2020.