Polished performers put on top show

By Genevieve Helliwell

Hundreds of performers took to the stage in the most anticipated kapa haka festival in Tauranga yesterday.

The two-day festival, which wraps up today, saw students from 38 primary and intermediate schools from around Tauranga Moana take part in the 19th annual Ra Whakangahau, held at Arataki Park.

Fairhaven School impressed the crowd with their black and yellow costumes and ink designs patterned on to their faces.

Organiser Sharon Horne said each group has spent months practising ahead of this year's festival and said the quality of performances were very high.

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Fairhaven school student Hoani McCormack. Photo: Joel Ford - Bay of Plenty Times

"It's unbelievable what we've seen here today.

"The support from the whanau for our tamariki (children) and also the support from the Arataki community has been fantastic," she said.

The festival began in 1992 with eight local schools.

Since then, the popularity of the event has grown and it is now the major kapa haka event on the primary and intermediate school calendar.

It is a non-competitive event - instead, the festival is a chance for junior and senior kapa haka groups to perform for their peers and whanau in a supportive environment.

The Ra Whakangahau is sponsored by Westpac Bank, TECT, The Lion Foundation and Mataatua Kapa Haka Incorporated.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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