Training is over, it’s now showtime at Te Matatini
Pack your piupiu and board the bus, Te Matatini is about to kick off.
From Thursday, the best kapa haka groups in the country will stomp the stage at the biennial senior national kapa haka competition in Hastings.
Five Waikato groups are travelling to Hawke’s Bay, having spent months learning their lines, swinging poi and perfecting choreography for a 25-minute stint in front of the judges.
Ngati Raukawa group Motai Tangata Rau have been at it since late September and leader of Paraone Gloyne said performers make huge sacrifices along the way. ’’It’s been a pretty intense slog,’’ Gloyne said.
Entire weekends, between 15 and 20 of them, are given up to living out of a suitcase in a communal setting of 50 or more people - all of them eating, sleeping and training together.
Summer holidays can be cut short. Long weekends don’t exist and nonperforming family members become ‘‘haka widows’’ or ‘‘haka orphans’’ throughout the campaign. So expectations are high, Gloyne said.
‘‘You don’t spend all of those bloody weekends slogging away, make all those sacrifices and commitment just to go and participate. We’re going to compete.’’
Waikato groups also travelling to Hastings are Te Iti Kahurangi and Te Kaaheru Matarau o Ngati Hauaa from Ngati Hauaa, Nga Pou o Roto from Huntly and Te Pou o Mangatawhiri from Ngaruawahia.
Forty-seven kapa haka teams from New Zealand and Australia will compete in three pools from Thursday to Saturday. The top nine, three from each pool, go through to a final shootout on Sunday.