Topic: Te Matatini

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40 years old in 2012

Te Matatini is a national indigenous dance festival in which Kapa Haka performers from all around New Zealand (Māori: Aotearoa) come together to compete for the noble and honour of winning the national finals. The name was given by Professor Wharehuia Milroy, a composite of Te Mata meaning the face and tini denoting many — hence the meaning of Te Matatini is many faces.

The Te Matatini festival is held every two years in different regions of New Zealand. Authority (mana) is given to different tribes (iwi) to host the festival. For example, in 2009 the mana was given to Tauranga Moana on behalf of the Bay of Plenty (Mataatua) region.

Mead (2003) explains, Mana is undergone by a set of rules before it is given, the people or person in charge has to accept these constraints and strive to rise above them in order to do the job that is set before them.

Te Matatini is seen as playing a very important role within Maoridom in promoting and developing indigenous dance, Kapa Haka. It provides a valuable cultural experience for the Maori people of New Zealand and others from all around the world, with the festival attracting up to 30,000 participants and spectators. Te Matatini celebrates the Maori culture, its beauty, and its core values. Kapa Haka is a form of Maori identity and contributes to New Zealand being unique.

The Te Matatini Society is the driving force behind Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival. Initially emerging in the late 1960s, it has evolved into the sponsor of a variety of Maori festivals and Polynesian events. The society in its current form was established in 1972 and has focused on the long term nurturing of Maori performing arts.

Competition format

The festival is normally run over 3 – 4 days. The first day involves a powhiri by the ‘tangata whenua’ (home people). All kapa haka performers, supporters, dignitaries and visitors are welcomed to the host region and the National Festival. The powhiri is carried out according to the customs and protocols of the host people.

The Competition Preliminaries are held during Days 1, 2 and 3, with groups performing across a range of Toi Haka - compulsory and non compulsory performance disciplines.

Each performance is judged against set criteria, by judges appointed from around New Zealand who are expert in their respective disciplines. Those teams with the highest combined marks in their competition pool move on to compete in the Competition Finals. The finalists are judged on the compulsory disciplines to determine the new Toa Whakaihuwaka: overall aggregate winner.

The Competition Finals are always held on the last day of the Festival, which is concluded with prize giving, where taonga (trophies) are awarded across a variety of toi haka (performance disciplines). (Te Matatini Society, 2009).


The performances are made up of the following disciplines:

  • Waiata tira (optional) —The choral is used to warm up the group or is good to put rangimarie (peace) upon the group to settle nerves. This item is optional and not compulsory.
  • Whakaeke —The item known as the whakaeke is the entrance song, where groups can make a statement in which who they are, where they come from, what the purpose is. It involves a lot of movement and choreography around the stage, and involves much discipline.
  • Moteatea — The moteatea is a traditional chant or dirges, however there are more contemporary styles being used in the more present times.
  • Waiata-a-ringa — The action song is where performers are using hand and body actions, much emphasis is placed on the hands, face, body and eyes to combine actions to words of the song. Ngata & Armstrong (2002) state that, “the action song is not a series of drill movements but a rhythmic expression of moods and emotions” (p. 9).
  • Poi — The Poi is a item that is done mostly by women, but can be done by men. This item is known for its gracefulness and poise, utilising a poi (round ball) connected to a plaited cord that exhibits beauty and style.
  • HakaTanerore, “the offspring of Te Ra and Hineraumati gave the personification of hot quivering air, who danced in the summer heat, which was known as Te Haka a Tanerore (the haka of Tanerore” (Reed, 2004, p. 399). The Haka is also used to make a statement against political matters, issues in Maori society, and barriers and challenges that Maori face today. It is also known as an expression of New Zealand identity. Karetu (1993) states that “of the Maori dance repertoire it can be said that the haka is the most eagerly anticipated wherever there is a performance” (pg. 80).
  • Whakawatea —The item is the exit song for the group. This gives the group the opportunity to leave a final statement, and reinforce what they came to do, who they are and thank the tangata whenua ‘home people’ for hosting the event.
  • Manukura Wahine/Manukura Tane — Female and male leaders where both show there roles from on and off the stage. These include; karanga (the calling), mihimihi (speeches), how the leaders present themselves within their groups in terms of leadership and how they carry themselves for the group.
  • Kakahu — This is the dress form, groups are judged on dress style. This item recognises the skills of weavers, moko and tuhi kiri (tattoo) artists, and carvers.
  • Te Reo — Also known as the Maori language, this discipline is the pinnacle of all disciplines.

Previous winners

Here are the previous winners of Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival, along with the region which hosted the festival.

  • 2011 - Matarae I O Rehu, Te Tairawhiti
  • 2009 – Te Waka Huia, Mataatua
  • 2007 – Whangara-Mai-Tawhiti, Rangitane
  • 2005 – Ta Whanau a Apanui, Rangitane
  • 2002 – Waihirere, Tamaki Makaurau
  • 2000 – Matarae I O Rehu, Ngaruawahia
  • 1998 – Wahirere, Trentham
  • 1996 – Ngati Rangiwewehi, Rotorua
  • 1994 – Te Waka Huia, Hawera
  • 1992 – Te Waka Huia, Ngaruawahia
  • 1990 – Te Roopu Manutaki, Waitangi
  • 1988 – Waihirere, Whangarei
  • 1986 – Te Waka Huia, Christchurch
  • 1983 – Ngati Rangiwewehi, Hastings
  • 1981 – Taniwharau, Auckland
  • 1979 – Waihirere, Wellington
  • 1977 – Te Kotahitanga o Waitaha, Gisborne
  • 1975 – Te Roopu Manutaki, Whangarei
  • 1973 – Mawai Hokona, Rotorua
  • 1972 -  Waihirere, Rotorua

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Te Matatini


184-198 Devon Street, Westbrook, Rotorua 3015, New Zealand

Latitude and Longitude coordinates: -38.1561978,176.22537590000002

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Date of Event:20 - 24 February 2013