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Te Mana Kuratahi 2023 is back and bigger than ever!



Te Mana Kuratahi 2023 is back and bigger than ever!

The biggest junior kapa haka event in the world is back after a four year break.

Aotearoa’s top 45 primary schools from Kawakawa to Otautahi will converge on Nelson’s Trafalgar Centre, for Te Mana Kuratahi National Primary School’s Kapa Haka Competition, beginning Monday 30 October.

From morning to night, audiences can expect four truly inspiring days of tamariki brimming with passion and eagerness to showcase their cultural pride, honour their heritage and celebrate their incredible talents on the national stage.

Thousands of hours learning kupu, actions, formations, melodies and mastering traditional Māori weaponary skills will all come down to one performance for hundreds of urban and rural tamariki going after the ultimate title of Toa Whakaihuwaka, the winners of Te Mana Kuratahi 2023.

Toa Whakaihuwaka 2019 Te Kura o Te Pāroa

Each school has up to 25 minutes to perform six or seven items, waiata tira (optional) whakaeke, waiata tawhito, waiata ā ringa, poi, haka and whakawātea.

26 judges will be watching closely and awarding points in the different categories. Each item has three of its own judges. There are also taonga for non-aggregate items, waiata tira, kākahu, manukura tāne and manukura wahine, whaikōrero, karanga, titonga hou.

Toa Tuarua 2019 Te Whānau o Te Maro

Te Mana Kuratahi chairman, Jack Te Moana says despite the delay of the event and financial challenges to travel to Te Waipounamu, the “passion and hunger” for kapa haka has only grown stronger, and this year maybe the best showcase yet.

“Our tamariki are extraordinary. You’ll be seeing 5 year olds, our pīpī paopao mirroring the discipline, pride and perfection of their tū next to their 13 year old tuakana. This is all part of the excellence and development of kapa haka - te mana o ngā tamariki, we’ll see the fruits of it on the national stage in Whakatū .”

Toa Tuatoru 2019 Te Wharekura o Ruatoki

Te Moana says the competition has come a long way from when the first kura took to the stage 23 years ago.

“A lot has happened in those 20 years. Te Mana Kuratahi plays a pivotal role of being able to showcase the best of our Māori culture through our tamariki and give them the fundamental knowledge and skills to continue performing at kura tuarua level and on to the pinnacle event for Māori performing arts, Te Matatini.”

Te Kura o Te Pāroa: Behind the lines

Reigning champions, Te Kura o Te Pāroa started learning items, fundraising and preparing for their haerenga to Whakatū in the first term.

“We’ve got a much younger kapa taking the stage next week, so we adjusted our schedules to have a more ao haka-focused way of learning. The change has given us more time to get our tamariki ready for the competition, which is great,” says Head tutor Ripeka Koia.

Toa Whakaihuwaka 2019 Te Kura o Te Pāroa

“Our tamariki also had to rangahau, how Ngāti Awa connects to Whakatū, to Te Waipounamu. One of the hononga is the kaupapa of our poi, its a favourite item and a privilege for our kura representing our iwi o Mataatua to acknowledge our shared ties and show our gratitude for the aroha and manaakitanga given to us by the host rohe.”

WATCH: Te Kura o Te Pāroa, Tuesday 31 October at 12:05pm.

One last dress rehearsal before nationals

Kawakawa boomed with applause and shouts of approval as Ngā Huiarau o Kawakawa performed its final dress rehearsal before heading to Te Mana Kuratahi.

From the Far North, the kapa haka are one of two teams representing Te Taitokerau in the competition. Kaiako and tutor Toni Waiomio said the dress rehearsal was not only to make final tweaks but to thank the dedication of those who helped out.

TMKT 2019 Ngā Huiarau o Kawakawa

"It's given us a chance to tidy up and change last minute things, and mihi to our community for their fantastic support, to thank the determination of our whānau and the moral support of Ngāti Hine.”

The excitement is in the air for the tira of 56 who’ll bus from Kawakawa to Auckland to catch their flight to Nelson.

“We’re ticking so many firsts for our tamariki because of their ao haka. First time on a plane, first trip to the South Island, first to revive the stories of our tīpuna Kupe, who spent time in Whakatū.”

Another first for Ngā Huiarau o Kawakawa, is having new tutors who performed at this year’s Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata also helped inspire a fresh wave of passion and enthusiasm into the kapa.

“Our tamariki idolise their tutors and picture themselves standing proudly on the Matatini stage side by side with their mentors. It’s a dream that’s not only within reach but also entirely achievable,” said Toni Waiomio.

WATCH: Ngā Huiarau o Kawakawa, Monday 30 October at 1:35pm

Te Tauihu o Te Waka

This year’s Te Mana Kuratahi continues the legacy of showing the best of junior kapa haka in Aotearoa. For Ngā iwi e waru o Te Tauihu o te Waka, it is a great matter of pride as hosts of the kaupapa to ensure this celebration of talent and culture shines brighter than ever before.

Festivities for Te Mana Kuratahi begin with the mass pōwhiri hosted by Ngā iwi e waru o Te Tauihu at Trafalgar Centre on Sunday 29 October at 11am. Competing kura will showcase their talents on the national stage from Monday with the prizegiving on Thursday around midday.

Trafalgar Centre Te Mana Kuratahi 2023

“We’re excited and we’re ready. The entire iwi is pitching in and many have volunteered their time to prepare for the pōwhiri and for the arrival of the groups and tāonga of Te Mana Kuratahi,” says Sonny Alesana, chair of Te Tauihu o te Waka a Maui Māori Cultural Council.

At least 2,000 people are expected to attend the pōwhiri which will be followed by a hākari prepared especially for the occasion. Many more performers, supporters and kapa haka fans will fill Trafalgar Centre over the duration of the competition.

Whakaata Māori is the official broadcaster of Te Mana Kuratahi with the broadcast live from Monday 30 October.

What you need to know

What: Te Mana Kuratahi National Primary School Kapa Haka Competition


Sunday 29 October 11am Pōwhiri

Monday 30 October until Thursday 2 November Competition

Where: Trafalgar Centre, Paru Paru Road, Nelson

Weather forecast: Sunny

Transport: There are free car parks in town. Catch the Blue e-bus to the venue

There will be golf cart shuttles for kaumātua around the venue

Parking: The best carparks nearby are Millers carpark (2 min walk) Wakatū carpark (5 min walk). There is no parking at the venue

Don’t forget: Tickets, water bottle and your best pukana for the cameras

Te Mana Kuratahi Programme, competition information, tickets sales:



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