Fierce battle for top spots at Tāmaki regionals

By Regan Paranihi

Today Tāmaki Makaurau kicked off the 2020 kapa haka season, with 17 teams taking to the stage to vie for their chance at Te Matatini 2021. 

While it is an indescribable feeling being the world's best kapa haka group, it is also a standard that comes with high expectations.

"It's a big mantle to uphold, however, the group carry it well. So that's why this season was great, that's why our stand was great. So despite the heaviness of holding this prestigious award, we carry it with ease," Ngā Tumanako's Kawariki Morgan says. 

Despite being world champions, Ngā Tumanako have yet to secure a win on their own soil.

"I believe there are only two names on the Auckland winners trophy, that is Manutaki and Te Waka Huia. So it is about following that standard and the hope is to get there, but if not there is no harm in trying," he says.

Te Waka Huia missed out on top nine at Te Matatini last year, and today's performance was their chance to redeem themselves.

"We have achieved what we came here to achieve and the audience saw what we had to offer on the stage. So that the people can see, Waka Huia is still here," Te Waka Huia's Jamus Webster says.

However, despite not making it through to finals, the team pride themselves on the values that were planted by the late Ngāpo and Pimia Wehi.

"It's cool to brag about who won, we won. But don't become complacent and forget the values that need to be carried out, such as kotahitanga and manaakitanga so that our language doesn't die and can be passed down to the next generation," he says.

Ihumātao was also a topic on the lips of many kaihaka today. A message they hope will be heard near and far.

"It talks about land confiscation and the damage it caused and that is Te Ihu o Mātaoho. It's nearly been given back but not quite," Morgan says.

Webster says, "There's a new generation that are not afraid to challenge the government."

Five of the 17 teams will go through to Te Matatini next year.