Bird perched on Haka Fusion judging panel

By Lindy Laird

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Whangarei entertainer Luke Bird, far right, on the set of Maori TV show The Stage - Haka Fusion.
Whangarei entertainer Luke Bird, far right, on the set of Maori TV show The Stage - Haka Fusion.

"Amazeballs" is how Whangarei high flying entertainer Luke Bird describes being a judge on Maori Television show The Stage - Haka Fusion.

The competition is described as not being just for the kapa haka elite but for those passionate about performance.

However, the dance - even if it borrows from ballet, for example - must have haka at its heart.

The series that airs every Thursday at 9pm features some of the best dance talent in the country, Bird said.

"The show is something totally new and has attracted dance teams from all over the country and interest from Australia.

"It is gaining brilliant ratings and feedback is insanely great."

It also carries a decent prize purse, with first place-getters winning $50,000.

"This will go to the top team who successfully fuses dance, entertainment and kapa haka together. That has never been seen before, and I can tell you now the teams we have in the show are nothing short of amazeballs.

I'm completely blown out of my nest."

The "Birdman", as he calls himself, was initially invited to audition as a presenter but the producers saw another side to him and offered him the spot on the judging panel.

A comedian, actor, MC, opera and musical theatre singer, Bird's flamboyance as well as his own stage experience work for him in the role.

The other three judges are two top kapa haka exponents Tiria Waitai and Jeff Ruha, who is also the show's te reo judge, and international dance judge Stephen Grey.

- Northern Advocate

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