Hundreds of the world's top kapa haka performers have filed into international sports ground McLean Park in Napier for the two-hour welcome to Hawke's Bay for Te Matatini 2017.

A party of more than 300 tangata whenua called-on more than 2000 manuhiri as the clock struck 11am.

Lead by King Tuheita the visitors advanced from the embankment and coastal end across the cricket pitch area, transformed for the occasion into a paepae as Napier's part of the festival based around four-days of kappa haka competition in Hastings starting tomorrow.

The festival has attracted 47 groups, comprising over 1800 performers who were among the crowd filing onto the grounds in bright late-morning sunshine, with the relief of a light breeze with temperatures expected to past the maximum of 23deg forecast for the day in Napier.

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It is only the second time Hawke's Bay-Wairarapa iwi Ngati Kahungunu has hosted the festival, the first being in 1983.

The competition will be held at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings, renamed Kahungunu Park for the occasion and featuring up to 16 performances a day for three days, followed by the finals on Sunday, featuring the top nine selected by a panel of judges during the week.