43rd Te Tai Tokerau Festival underway in Kerikeri

By Raniera Harrison

The fast growth of Northland's secondary school kapa haka festival could pose big pressures for schools and organisers in the future. 

The event is hosted by a new school each year, but some are questioning whether they can cope with the undertaking. 

"There has been a sense of worry.  However, we need to be vigilant regardless, to be successful," says Moko Tepania.

Tepania is the chairman of Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau- the overarching body vested with the promotion of kapa haka in Northland schools.

This comes as traditional Māori performing arts groups from 27 Northland secondary schools were formally welcomed to Kerikeri High School for the 43rd annual Te Tai Tokerau Festival.

Kerikeri High School received the māuri of the competition from Bream Bay College in 2017.

"We were initially quite daunted by it, and it began with our funding applications with The Lotteries Commission and Te Puni Kōkiri," says principal of Kerikeri High School, Elizabeth Forgie.

Organisers estimate over 1,500 Northland secondary school students will attend, which will benefit the future of haka in the North.

It comes as schools prepare to take on the huge task of hosting what has grown exponentially in the last five years.

"The host schools have been formally selected until 2020. So that gives them enough time to prepare" says Tepania.

However, Forgie says that the undertaking of hosting so many students, teachers, and family members for the event has been no mean feat.

"We wanted to take the venues outside because we knew that the venues selected would be over-capacity," she says.

Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau confirmed today that Whangarei Girls High School will host the two day event in 2019.

"We have plans in place, as Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau, for these sorts of things- to achieve the goal," says Tepania.

The two day festival finishes tomorrow evening.