Te Matatini: Excellence in Māori Performing Arts

Te Matatini.  The many faces.

Wednesday marked the opening of what is one of the biggest events on the National Māori calendar.  Eagerly awaited by thousands, this biennial event is the paramount event for Māori performing arts. An extravaganza of live performance and a bringing together of some of the best exponents and practitioners of the art form from across iwi and the motu.

Places at the Nationals are hotly contested within individual rohe. Top qualifying groups from each district make the National competition. The amount of work that goes into the stand of each group is immense. Original composition, choreography, vocal excellence, beauty and excellence in the language as well as physical fitness are all required.

Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival
Crowd watches performers on a big screen, Hagley Park, Te Matatini 2015, Flickr File Reference: 2015-03-05- IMG_5900

Participation at this level also requires a mastery of a variety of art forms - from mōteatea to poi to haka and traditional weaponry.  Hundreds of hours of relentless practice and commitment are required from members of groups that take months if not years in the preparation of what they will share with the mutitudes when they take the stage. The result is a feast for the senses and the soul, each group bringing the best they have.  The best groups embody all the aspects of ihi, wana and wehi.

Various components of each set are judged and scored.  Each set consists of waiata tira, mōteatea, whakaeke, waiata ā ringa, poi, haka and whakawātea.  Individual items as well as other components such as  excellence in the Reo, original composition, kākahu,  kaitātaki tane and kaitāki wahine are all judged and scored to help decide the overall winner of each judged item and to decide the eventual overall winner.

Everyone has their own favourite kapa and star performers, the choreography that causes "ohhs " and "aahhhs", the brilliance of new original compositions. Te Matatini inspires excellence in all the performers, and has been known to spark many a conversation, ignite hapū, iwi  and rohe pride.  Occasionally results have been known to cause debate or some controversy, but one thing is for sure - Te Matatini never disappoints.

If you’d like to find out more, Te Matatini have their own website where you can find more in-depth information.  Māori Television is live streaming and on offering on demand services to New Zealand, Australia and America. The Facebook pages of Te Kaea and Māori Television are offering up to the minute social media updates. Every group gets their moment in the spotlight with the top scorers in each pool qualifying for finals on Sunday (you can find a full programme here.)

If you would like to learn about Māori performing arts in more depth, we have some great resources available in our libraries. As a starting point, you might like to look at our Matatini - Māori Performing Arts resource list.

Find out more

Aurelia Arona,
Ngā Ratonga Māori / Māori Services

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