Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti have won Te Matatini 2017. But participating in, let alone winning, Te Matatini takes not only determination and talent - it also takes cold hard cash.

Te Reanga Morehu o Ratana tutor, Tetaepa Kameta says they start a campaign from nothing.

"Then fundraise to get what we want or what we need to do."

And that is something that weighs heavily with organisers.

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Te Matatini Executive Director Carl Ross says: "It's very expensive to stand on that stage actively participate in Te Ao Māori, if you look at an average of $5,000 per campaign per performer... that's an average of $200,000 that comes out of a community's pocket to send one team to Te Matatini."

The event costs $2.5 million to stage, and only a fraction of that is covered by ticket sales.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage covers just over half the bill - and there are other sponsors - but organisers are looking at ways to secure the financial future of the event.

Mr Ross says part of their ten year strategic plan is to become financially autonomous.

"Still accept our funds, and graciously accept our funds from our Ministry, but be able to run our business at the same time and support our teams."

To do that - organisers need to be able to have evidence showing the impact of the event.

He says the national board has agreed to a ten year strategy that considers: "Community development, it looks into research of the positive contributions that kapa haka has to the Māori health index, it looks at the fiscal contribution that kapa haka makes to the national economy, it looks at how we can sponsor educational initiatives around kapa haka."

"It's looking wider than where we currently are at the moment, and it's exciting."

From humble beginnings in 1972, the organisers of Te Matatini are determined to ensure it continues to develop its mana - as an event on New Zealand's cultural calendar.

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