From the mountains to the ocean _ that's the theme of the towering art which will be the centrepiece of Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival next month.
Well-known and emerging Western Bay weavers, carvers and painters have spent hundreds of hours over past weeks preparing for the Baypark event from February 19-22.
The overall design is called `Mai nga maunga, ki te moana' which means from the mountains/hills representing Tuhoe, Whakatohea, Te Whanau-a-Apanui _ all iwi of Mataatua which spans the Bay of Plenty _ through to the sea representing Tauranga Moana.
It is the first time the event will be held in Tauranga Moana, which is hosting the festival on behalf of Mataatua, since the nationals began in its current form in 1972.
Creative Tauranga Maori arts co-ordinator Te Rahui August, who has helped bring the artists together for the festival, said it was important Tauranga Moana artists created the stage.
"The nation is coming to Tauranga and it is an honour and privilege for our local artists to show and tell Tauranga Moana stories through weaving, whakairo [carving] and painting," she said.
The backdrop is painted by Chanz Mikaere, who has incorporated landmarks and whakapapa of iwi throughout Mataatua for the brightly coloured 12m by 3.5m canvas.
This will sit behind performers as each of the 36 teams from 13 regions, including two groups from Australia, battle it out for the top spot.
Te Whare Pora Weavers Association, lead by veteran weaver Te Aroha Luttenberger, spent the last few weekends collecting about 1000 blades of flax from Matapihi, which they wove into a 20m long piece which will drape the front of the stage.
And finally, well-known carver James Tapiata is creating four 3.5m high and 1.2m wide polystyrene poupou (posts) which will stand either side of the stage.
The three components are set to come together on Saturday, just five days before gates to the festival open to the public.
Check out tomorrow's edition of the Bay of Plenty Times sister newspaper Bay News for your free official guide to Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival 2009.
Artists set scene for bold festival
By Cleo Fraser
By Cleo Fraser