Things heat up at Te Matatini

By Greg Taipari

A third successive day of heat hasn't stopped thousands who have flocked for the competition at Te Matatini 2013.

Close to 15,000 spectators packed the Rotorua International Stadium this morning to watch the final 14 of 41 groups perform at Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival.

Tainui group Te Pau O Mangataawhiri had the crowd reaching for the programmes to see who this group was.

It was frightening to think a group who few knew about could set the bar so high, so early in the day.

But when you are from the rohe of Tainui, kapa haka is in their blood. The group managed to blend magnificently the traditional with the contemporary.

If Te Arawa supporters were worried they needn't have, thanks to Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao. With more than 100 years of kapa haka history standing behind the group, they sent a soul wrenching waiata (song) to the Atua (God) and lifted the competition to another level.

Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao's women sang like angels while their men's baritone tones were operatic like. Male leader Daniel Heretaunga was at his best performing with plenty of ihi (power) while female lead Laurelle Tamati showed why she has won best female leader at the regionals in the past.

Straight after their performance Te Arawa's second group, Te Mataarae i Orehu performed. Like Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao who lifted the competition through theatrical movements, Te Mataarae lifted the competition to another level through power and vitality.

Wetini Mitai-Ngati, the men's leader, was at his consummate best, while female leader Miri Morrison-Hare was majestic and brought back memories of her late mother Taini Morrison.

It would be wrong to try and compare the two Te Arawa groups because both follow a different kaupapa and excel at it.

The two groups will now have to wait until later this afternoon to find out whether or not they have done enough to make the top three.

There is still a buzz of excitement around the stadium as Te Arawa supporters wait for their next two groups to perform. Nga Potiki a Hinehopu are next to perform at 2.27pm with Nga Uri o te Whanoa to perform straight after them. The top nine will be named later this afternoon.

- Hamilton News

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