The longest serving Te Matatini performer wowed the crowd this afternoon as Waihirere took to the stage.

Louise Kingi has been in every single festival since it began in 1972 and one former group member described her as the rock.

Lolo Brown who was beside Ms Kingi until 2005 was blown away by the groups performance and Ms Kingi this afternoon.

"She just gave her all and represented the group with dignity, pride and passion. The performance today was just a true representation of who we are and what we believe in."


Since Ms Brown entered the group in 1986 she said Ms Kingi acted as her mentor and role model giving her confidence and knowledge.

"With her around I felt safe and she taught us how to perform with humility and dignity. If I ever felt nervous I would look around and as soon as I saw her I felt so much relief. She really was an inspiration and you could say an icon in Kapa Haka."

"I will always be blessed to say I performed alongside her and I just love coming back and still being an to watch her."

Team Kaitataki Tane William Te Aho said the performance went well and he was proud of what everyone achieved out there including Ms Kingi.

The team have won the competition five times and are hoping this will be another one they can add to the list.

"After all the months of training it was awesome to get out there. For us this year it was about sharing our story of our whanau and our ancestors and how are lineage connects to Hawke's Bay," Mr Te Aho.

He said Hawke's Bay had turned it on and now it was a waiting game until the finalists were read out tonight.

"Whatever happens we have created some great memories for our club," he said.