Kaumātua celebrated at Mātaatua Regionals

By Mahina Hurkmans

Celebrating the kaumātua who have kept the art of kapa haka alive was the focus of Day One at the Mātaatua Regionals. They took to the stage today to set the standard for the performances that will follow. 

The challenge has been laid on Ōhui.

Making a team usually requires years of training, but for James Reihana it was for the love of the kaupapa.

"I only came as the bus driver, I started at Matariki last year. They asked me to drive their bus, and again today they said, 'Oh you know you're not just a bus driver, you got to hop on stage with us,'" James Reihana (Kaihaka) says.

On Day One of the event, it is evident who the staunch supporters are.

"I've been doing it all my life," Rangihuia Christie says.

"This is my whānau and they have all been staunch Māoritanga all their lives now. This is going on to the second, third generation and they are all on stage."

A special remembrance for one of Te Whakatōhea matriarch's Te Hohipera Williams by Te Whakatōhea Maurua.

"She was 90 years old and stood every year," Dawn Hill (Kaihaka) says.

Tomorrow, the multitudes will flock to Ōhui for the main performances