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Watch NZH Local Focus: Tourists plan New Zealand trip around Te Matatini

By Kaysha Brownlie

These Cook Island dancers are providing some lunchtime entertainment -at Kapa Haka festival Te Matatini.

They're just one of the many groups that have grasped the opportunity to experience Māori culture.

Te Matatini Chairman Selwyn Parata says: "It's never been an exclusively Māori event, Te Matatini has always been what I would say the Olympics of kapa haka."

And that's why Te Matatini came at the top of this French tourist's New Zealand bucket list.

Olivia Jauffres from Montpellier, France, even got herself a temporary stamped moko.

"We're really enjoying it, spending a good day with family, it's important for [my baby] as well to get to know the Māori culture, for my Māori baby."

Her partner, New Zealander Kevin Hari, took huge pride in sharing his Māori culture.

"If you want Māori culture and Kiwi culture you can't beat it, you've got to come to this cause you've got everything you've got the performance you've got haka," Mr Hari says.

"I can see it's going to be a big tourist boom, more than just a cultural Māori boom, I think the tourists are really going to start coming into this soon."

Organisers say that is already happening.

Te Matatini Judge, Joe Harawira, says organisers are finding people overseas are timing their visits for when Te Matatini is on.

"They're interested in our culture and want to experience and be a part of the Māori culture."

For Fiona Puata Te Matatini is an opportunity to reconnect with her culture after a stint living in Australia.

"In October last year we decided to come home, because we were missing out on the culture," Ms Puata says.

"We were missing out on the whole concept of whanaungatanga, tikanga and I wanted my children to experience that."

A unique experience - shared by a growing number of people - from around the world.

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- NZ Herald

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