In the Eastern Bay of Plenty this Labour Weekend, hundreds gathered to celebrate the Ngāti Awa Te Toki kapa haka festival in Whakatāne.
As the competition celebrates its 2nd year, it also welcomes a move to a new and larger premises at the Whakatāne Rugby fields.
More than 18,000 members affiliate to the 25 hapu of Ngāti Awa. From this membership, 20 groups have taken the stage to perform in the children, non-competitive and competitive sections.
For the organising chair Della Te Pere the focus for this festival was about developing the customs and language of Ngāti Awa “By running this event our hope is to build the capacity with-in our people regarding our language and customs we use on our Marae."
Including the elements of wero (challenge), karanga (welcoming call), whai kōrero (speech) and Mōteatea into the kapa haka competition helps re-enforce their goal to strengthen customs and language.
Ngāti Pūkeko male leader Meihana Umuhuri was breathless when he walked off the stage and says “I’m proud of my team it’s been an amazing journey, Ngāti Awa Te Toki simply awesome.”
Today the competitive groups took the stage and results for the competition are expected shortly.