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Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival

Every two years, Te Matatini organises the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival, where top kapa haka teams from New Zealand and Australia compete for the honour of being crowned the best of the best.

The Festival started in 1972 and is now the world’s largest celebration of Māori traditional performing arts, attracting over 30,000 performers, supporters and visitors.  Over four days audiences experience the best Māori performing arts in the world, from the harmonies of dynamic group singing to the graceful movements of women performing the poi and the ferocity of the male haka.

The Festival is a whānau friendly, smoke, alcohol and drug free event.  It is an opportunity for all people, regardless of culture, background or age to come together, to share and celebrate.

While the main focus is Kapa Haka , the Festival also celebrates Māori culture and cuisine.  Visitors can enjoy a range of retail and food stalls, art and craft exhibitions and other entertainment activities. 

Te Matatini 2015 - Christchurch

The next festival will be held  4 - 8 March 2015, hosted by the Waitaha rohe at Hagley Park (North), Christchurch, New Zealand

The Competition

Day 1 - Pōwhiri by the Tangata Whenua

  • All Kapa Haka performers, supporters, dignitaries and visitors are welcomed by the local hosts. 

Days 2, 3 and 4 – Pool Rounds (Te Ihu, Te Haumi, Te Kei)

  • Kapa Haka teams are required to perform six disciplines within their performance piece - whakaeke (a choreographed entry), mōteatea (traditional chant), poi (light ball swung on the end of a rope), waiata-ā-ringa (action song), haka and whakawātea (exit).  They must perfect every discipline in a polished 25-minute performance. 
  • Each performance is judged against set criteria, by expert judges, appointed from around New Zealand.
  • Taonga (trophies) are awarded to the team with the highest score in the seven compulsory (aggregate) categories (the six discplines mentioned and the seventh category, Te Reo Maori - the use and clarity of the Maori language)  Further taonga are awarded across non compulsory (non-aggregate) categories such as Kaitātaki Wahine (Best Female Leader), Kaitātaki Tāne (Best Male Leader) and Kākahu (Costume).
  • The top three teams with the highest combined marks in their competition pool will compete in the Competition Finals. 

Day 5 – The Finals (Te Whakarae)

  • The finalists are judged anew to determine third, second and the new Toa Whakaihuwaka - overall winner of the competition.

Competition Rules

The competition is held in accordance with the Competition Rules. 


Te Matatini Mauri

At the end of each festival, a formal ceremony is held for the current Host Committee to pass the Te Matatini mauri to the next festival hosts. 

Te Matatini Mauri

Prizegiving and Taonga

  • Pool Rounds: Taonga are awarded to the team with the highest score in the compulsory and non-compulsory disciplines from the Pool Rounds.  
  • Finals: The Toa Whakaihuwaka (overall winner) taonga, and second and third place are awarded to the teams with the highest scores from the Finals Day.

Festival Winners


Festival Winners

Te Matatini Champions 2013 - Te Waka Huia

Te Waka Huia won the coveted title of Toa Whakaihuwaka, and overall winner of the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival 2013, held at the Rotorua International Stadium.

As the current champions, Te Waka Huia will represent Te Matatini Society and New Zealand at various local and international events – in July 2013 they performed at the opening of the America’s Cup in San Francisco.

Te Waka Huia Profile

Group Leaders: Tāpeta and Annette Wehi

Rohe: Tāmaki Makaurau

Kaitataki Tane: Tāpeta Wehi

Kaitataki Wahine: Pimia Wehi

Ko ngā whāinga o Te Waka Huia

  • Kia hui tahi ngā mātāwaka e noho ana ki roto o Tāmaki Makaurau
  • Kia whakamana ai Te Reo Māori me ōna tikanga katoa
  • Kia tū hei ihupūmanawa mō te hāpori whānui
  • He mea manaaki i ngā taonga a ō tātou tūpuna hei tākoha mō ngā uri whakaheke e whai ana

Kia koke whakamua, kia eke ki te tāpuhipuhi o ngā mahi-ā-Rehia

Te Waka Huia Images - Te Matatini Festival 2013

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Festival Taonga


Festival Taonga

Te Toa Whakaihuwaka, Overall Winner  - Duncan Mclntyre Trophy

Awarded to the winner of the Finals Day competition

Current winners: Te Waka Huia

Donor: Duncan Mclntyre, Minister of Māori Affairs 1979-73, 1976-79 

Rt Hon Duncan Mclntyre was the Minister of Māori Affairs during the first festival in 1972. At that time there was a resurgence and revival of Māori language traditions, especially among rangatahi. The trophy has been donated to promote rangatahi in their pursuit of excellence in Te Reo Māori and its traditions.

Whakaeke: Te Whānau ō Waipareira Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Whakaeke' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners:  Te Iti Kahurangi

Donor: Te Whānau o Waipareira

This trophy is modeled on Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust’s logo, designed by Mei Collins. The design is based on the trust’s motto- “Kōkiri i roto i te kotahitanga” – “progressively act in unity” – a motto created by several kaumātua. The taonga and its design reflects the unrelenting power and force of the tides; the three baskets of knowledge, productivity and a new lease of life. It was first presented at the 1994 festival in Hāwera.

Mōteatea: Te Kani Te Ua Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Mōteatea' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Iti Kahurangi

Donor: Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki

Carved by Moni Taumaunu (Ngāti Porou) and Bill Mau (Ngāpuhi), This trophy was made from an eight foot strainer post found on the slopes of Mangatu. Its base is made out of a piece of timber from Hato Paora College near Feilding. There are two hands holding the sides of the receptacle representing Tāne fashioning Hine Ahuone from Papatūanuku (Mother Earth).

Waiata-ā-Ringa: Ikaroa Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Waiata-ā-Ringa' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Iti Kahurangi

Donor: Ngāti Poneke Young Māori Club through Minister of Māori Affairs, Rt Hon Duncan Mclntyre

This trophy was donated in 1972 by Ngāti Poneke who were at the forefront of Māori Performing Arts especially in this category. The group had won the Wellington and Ikaroa district competitions and performed at festivals in Tauranga, Ngāruawahia and the Hui Aranga.  Ngāti Poneke has the distinction of being the trophy’s first winner. 


Poi: Aotea District Maori Council Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Poi' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti

Donor: Aotea District Māori Council

When the 1972 Polynesian Festival Competition was first mooted, it was acknowledged by the National Committee, that Taranaki were the exponents of the poi in its traditional forms - poi harakeke, poi raupo and poi atua etc.  These and other forms of poi were performed at tangi.  It was further noted that Tohu Kakahi, the Parihaka chief, adopted the poi as his symbol of peace and goodwill. This was done at the same time that Te Whiti o Rongomai adopted the white feather.  Aotea was given the opportunity to donate a trophy in 1972, by the Aotea council on behalf of the Aotea district.

Haka: Te Ngākau Aroha o Te Waipounamu Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Haka' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Mātārae i Ōrehu

Donor: Timua Crofts

This trophy was presented to the then Polynesian National Committee on behalf of the Waitaha Cultural Council. When it was designed in the form of Mt Aoraki there were two main themes in Timua Croft’s mind – 'Te Reo o Aoraki' and 'te ngākau aroha'.  Both these elements have significance for Ngāi Tahu.  At the time, Ngāi Tahu dialect and reo among its own members was not regarded as strong and vibrant, compared to other tribal groups.

Te reo o Aoraki in the form of the tupuna maunga, Aoraki, was seen as the pinnacle to which Ngāi Tahu should aspire. 'Te ngākau aroha' on the other hand, represents Ngāi Tahu maintaining and retaining their Māori heart and values of aroha and manaakitanga. The saying "te ngākau aroha" was devised by Te Aritaua Pitama and was adopted as the motto for the then active Kapa Haka, Te Whetū Ariki o Kahukura. 


Whakawātea: Wi Te Tau Huata Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Whakawātea' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Kapa Haka o Te Whānau a Apanui

Donor: Wi and Ybel Huata whānau

This trophy was presented in recognition of Canon Wi and Ybel Huata’s great contribution to composing, tutoring and writing music, and their leadership of numerous Kapa Haka.  It recognises their environment with He Toa Takitini – a Kapa Haka which performed at the festival in 1972 – and from which many people went on to form, or lead others.  

Te Kairangi o Te Reo (Excellence for diction, pronunciation and content in Māori language): Mobil Oil Te Reo Excellence Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Te Kairangi o Te Reo' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Iti Kahurangi

Donor: Mobil Oil New Zealand Ltd

This trophy represents Mobil Oil's commitment to supporting and fostering the arts in general and Māori art and language in particular. Mobil seeks to recognise those involved in ensuring a new generation of Māori achieve fluency in te reo and regards the resurgence of interest in the language as the key to cultural growth.


Kākahu (Costume): Wairākau Paia Waipara Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the winner of Kākahu from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Tū Te Manawa Maurea

Donor: Waipara whānau of Rongowhakaata

The original trophy for Kākahu was presented at the 1996 Rotorua festival in honour of the late Wairākau Waipara QSM who excelled in designing costumes, kete, kākahu, piupiu and whāriki. The Waipara whānau recently updated the taonga and presented this at the 2013 Te Matatini - Rotorua festival.

Kaitātaki Tane (Male Leader): Dr Bruce Gregory Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Kaitātaki Tane' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Mātārae i Ōrehu

Donor: Dr Bruce Gregory, MP, Northern Māori 1980-1993

This trophy was presented by Dr. Gregory as a gift from the heart and was intended for Māori who devote enormous time to Kapa Haka.  The trophy is his contribution to the traditional Māori performing arts and the pursuit of excellence.

Kaitātaki Wahine (Female Leader): Kaitātaki Wahine Korowai

Awarded to the winner of 'Kaitataki Wahine' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Iti Kahurangi

Sponsored by Te Waka Toi  

In 2011 a new korowai for Kaitātaki Wahine was presented at Te Matatini o Te Ra - Tairāwhiti festival.  Made by Teresa Murray at Te Puia, Rotorua, and kindly sponsored by Te Waka Toi, the korowai is a poutama pattern constructed from muka and pūkeko feathers.


Waiata Tira (Choral): Te Roopu Waiata Māori o Aotearoa Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Waiata Tira' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Hātea

Donor: National Māori Choir

Presented in Rotorua in 1996, the original trophy included white glass pieces with kōwhaiwhai which represented the opera 'Ka Awatea' performed by the donor group.  The red glass background represents the throat from which the greenstone originated, and the essence symbolises the quality sound that comes from trained voices. The music symbol on the greenstone is the official logo of the National Māori Choir.

Titonga Waiata Hou (Best original composition - overall highest): Ta Kingi Ihaka Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the winner of 'Titonga Waiata Hou' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Pou o Mangataawhiri

Donor: Ihaka whānau

Among all his other achievements, Sir Kingi Ihaka was the inaugural chairperson of the New Zealand Polynesian, and the then Aotearoa Traditional Māori Performing Arts Festival National Committee. It was a position he held from 1972 – 1993, except for a period of two years when he resided in Sydney, Australia. Tā Kingi was a composer, writer of music, tutor and leader of such Kapa Haka as the Wairarapa Anglican, Putiki Wharanui, (Whanganui), Wellington Anglican and Auckland Anglican groups. He was also the second Māori Language Commissioner.

Titonga Haka (Haka Composition) 

Awarded to the winner of 'Titonga Haka' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Pou o Mangataawhiri

Titonga Poi (Poi Composition)

Awarded to the winner of 'Titonga Poi' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Te Mātārae i Ōrehu

Titonga Waiata-a-Ringa (Waiata-ā-Ringa Composition) 

Awarded to the winner of 'Titonga Waiata-ā-Ringa' from the Pool Rounds

Current winners: Ngā Uri o Te Whanoa


Festival Hosts


Festival Hosts

Hosting Role

Every two years, Te Matatini Festival is held in a different rohe (region) around New Zealand.  The local rohe committee and iwi come together to host the festival and to welcome performers and audiences to their area.

The task of hosting a festival is tremendous.  From holding a formal pōwhiri (welcome) to providing manaaki (care) to over 1,500 competitors, 1,000 workers and tens of thousands of spectators for four days of competition and entertainment.  The hosting workforce involves hundreds of volunteers.  They ensure Kapa Haka and guests have a safe and enjoyable festival and experience the best the rohe has to offer.

Past Hosts

Hosts of the last three Te Matatini festivals include:

2013 -  Te Arawa rohe at Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua

2011  -  Te Tairāwhiti rohe (hosted Te Matatini o Te Rā) at Waiohika Estate, Gisborne

2009 -  Mātaatua rohe at Baypark Stadium, Tauranga

Next Host - 2015 Waitaha

The next festival will be hosted by Waitaha rohe at Hagley Park (North), Christchurch, 4-8 March 2015.

Future Hosts

2017 -  Ngāti Kahungunu

2019  - Te Whanganui-ā-Tara

2021  - Tāmaki Makaurau

2023 - Aotea

2025 - Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui

2027 - Tainui

2029 - Te Taitokerau

2031 - Rangitāne

2033 - Mātaatua

2035 - Te Tairāwhiti

2037 - Te Arawa

2039 - Waitaha