Big strides have been made as the halfway point on the Marae Whakaute project draws nearer.

The project, led by Ngati Kahungunu in partnership with Hastings District Council, will see marae facilities brought up to standard before tens of thousands of visitors flock into the region for Te Matatini in February.

The national biennial kapa haka competition will be hosted in Hastings, with the majority of around 40 performing teams coming to the region expecting to be hosted on marae.

At the launch of the project Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said: "It is the biggest redevelopment collaboration between a council, funders, iwi and individual marae in New Zealand."

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Marae registered their interest in the project early last year, and put up a third of the funds required for the work on their marae - funds were also contributed by council and the Hawke's Bay Funders' Forum.

While Te Matatini had been a huge driver of the marae-improvement project, it was not the only one.

Ngati Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said the ambition had always been to upgrade their marae. Work at three marae had been completed, with work on eight others either part way there, or about to be tackled.