Te Matatini back in full force

Held in February in the big smoke’s Eden Park, Ngāti Whātua and Tāmaki Makaurau welcomed kapa haka performers, vendors and thousands of supporters to its city.

In light of the challenges of COVID-19, the recent floods, and Cyclone Gabrielle, this year’s Te Matatini provided an opportunity to unite Aotearoa after such testing times.

The festival was a visual feast of raw talent and Te Ao Māori. Whether on the ground at Eden Park or watching through a screen, you couldn’t help but be awe-struck by the powerful performances.

Highlights for me were:

  • The stunning kākahu and props, such as the popular luxury Noa blanket that cloaked the tīnana of the wāhine of Tutarakauika ki Rangataua
  • Breaking gender norms where two Angitū members expressed their true selves seamlessly performing both male and female kapa haka lines
  • And our own Stan Walker debuting at his first-ever Te Matatini with Te Morehu o Ratana.

What really touched many was the incredibly powerful and heartfelt performance from Matangirau (Ngāti Kahungunu), who brought with them the paruparu (mud) from their flood-stricken lands of Wairoa and wore it on their tinana (body).

The top 12 finalists saw roopu from various rohe across the motu, including five teams from Te Arawa. In the end, it was Te Whānau ā Apanui who were crowned this year’s Te Matatini winners.

Congratulations to Te Whānau ā Apanui, and all kapa and kaihaka who represented their rohe and whānau on the Matatini stage with immense pride – Ka rawe!

Kapa haka is a vehicle for positive transformative change for whānau and communities. Te Matatini is one of the most highly anticipated events for performers, their whānau and the mass of passionate kapa haka fans throughout the world.

Since its inception 51 years ago, Te Matatini has gone from strength to strength and now sees the best of the best of kapa haka teams battle over four days to be crowned Toa Whakaihuwaka, the champions of Te Matatini.

The next Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival will be hosted in Aotea (Taranaki / Whanganui) in 2025.

To watch any of this year’s performances, click here