The usual favourites Hātea, Muriwhenua and Te Pū Ao qualify for the 2017 nationals in Ngāti Kahungunu. However the buzz around the Tai Tokerau regionals was gladly received by the newly formed team, Ngā Manu Mātui o Ngāpuhi that many believed to be a highlight in the competition.
They brought a fresh take to the competition in Te Taitokerau. Ngā Manu Mātui o Ngāpuhi were innovative and a hot favourite at this year's event. Despite missing out on next year's Te Matatini, the earned praise from winning male leader, Joby Hopa.
Joby Hopa - Hātea says, “They grew up in kura kaupapa and now they're adults. So it's great to see. They're here representing Matauri Bay and Mātaatua waka.”
Hātea took out the main prize winning in 7 disciplines, paying tribute to a generation of leaders who've made an impact, in culture, education and history.
Hopa says, “You could see the grief on many of the teams here. We grieve for our elders and haka performers who have passed.”
Muriwhenua was another favourite. Their bracket brought the crowd to a stand-still with a new approach to maurākau, performed with some new faces. They set the bench mark for other competing teams in the programme.
Dan Waitai – Muriwhenua says, “The standard has risen once again in this region, so that was awesome to see.”
“We've been training for the last 6 months. That all helps us to reach our goals,” says Tia Waitai-Henare, Muriwhenua.
Te Pū Ao was another successful contender who qualified. Their poi was a stand-out.
Chey Milne says,” To stand in humility and carry Taitokerau principles. What are Taitokerau principles you ask, it is to stand with empathy.”
However Hātea led the way, paying tribute in their final item to the people of Whangarei.
Hopa says, “Wow, we're heading back to Te Matatini once again. That's hard work alright. I recommend the three teams go as one under Ngāpuhi and also showcase our ways of Ngāpuhi homelands.”