The mahi is over and the anxious waiting game has started for 13 groups which performed on the opening day of Te Haaro o Te Kaahu, the National Secondary Schools Kapa Haka Festival, at the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale yesterday.

Three groups will go into the finals on Friday, along with three from today's preliminaries and three more from tomorrow's.

But none of the finalists will be named until late Thursday.

The group waiting the longest is host Te Matau-a-Maui group Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, who were first to perform when the competitions started yesterday.

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The event has 39 groups from as far afield as Kaitaia and Invercargill including three from Hawke's Bay area Te Matau-a-Maui, one of the 14 regions regions represented at the festival which has about 1600 performers.

Among those appearing today are Te Aute College and Southland combination Te Wharekura o Arowhenua.

The finals system was introduced two years ago when the festival was held in Gisborne.

A group of more than 40 judges from throughout the country are rostered to officiate during the performances.

With about 4000 people in Hawke's Bay for the festival, most remaining sessions are fully booked.

Today's programme:
Pool B, Session 1, 9am:
* Te Whanau Tahi (Naenae College, Wairarapa/Te Awakairangi).
* Te Kapa Haka o Te Toi Huarewa (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Whanau Tahi/Hornby High School/Christchurch BHS).
* Nga Potiki Hononga Kura (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho/Te Kura o Kokohuia/Taranaki-Whanganui).
* Te Wharekura o Mauao (Mataatua).
* Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga (Tainui)

Pool B, Session 2, 1.10pm:
* Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa Mai Tawhiti (Te Tairawhiti).
* King's College (Tamaki Makaurau).
* Nga Taiatea Wharekura (Tainui).
* Te Aute College (Te Matau-a-Maui).

Pool B, Session 3, 4.40pm:
* Te Wharekura o Arowhenua (Otakou/Murihiku).
* Te Rouroukura (Nelson College/Marlborough Girls College, Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka-a-Maui).
* Te Manawa Tahi (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Horouta Wananga/Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Uri a Mau, Te Tai Rawhiti).
* Te Wharekura o Ruatoki (Mataatua).