Kapa haka lovers are being offered a rare glimpse into the world of kapa haka in a new reality show featuring the reigning kapa haka champion group from Te Arawa.
Maori Television is launching Kapa Haka: Behind The Faces following the key figures in the national kapa haka champion group, Te Arawa's Te Matarae I Orehu, as they prepare to defend their title at the 2013 Te Matatini Festival to be held in Rotorua this month.
Kapa Haka: Behind The Faces will begin on March 1 at 9.30pm.
Rotorua's Velvet Stone Media producer Lara Northcroft from Rotorua said the five-part series captured all the blood, sweat and tears going into preparing for the traditional Maori performing arts competition.
"These are people who give up their weekends, who practise the poi during their coffee break at work and learn the words to the haka sitting in their car at the lights."
Their journey offered viewers a front row seat to the group's sacrifices and struggles to make to the nationals, Ms Northcroft said.
"Through them, we gain some insight into an obsessive passion that consumes them for months on end, for 30 minutes on stage."
The programme features many members of the talented Morrison family, including reigning female champion Miriama Morrison-Hare, who stepped into the group's female lead role following the death of her mother, Taini Morrison.
"As she deals with those pressures, her teammates try to juggle work and family with practice, while others make the trip down from Auckland every week to perfect their skills."
Te Matarae I Orehu is one of 41 groups representing 13 regions, including Australia, who will take to the stage at Te Matatini 2013, taking place at Rotorua International Stadium February 21 to 24.
Kapa Haka: Behind The Faces will showcase the group right through their lead up to their performance at the nationals on the day.
Among those highlighted in the programme will be traditional Maori weaponry master, kapa haka expert and founder of Rotorua's Mitai Maori Village and group male leader Wetini Mitai-Ngatai, who is choreographer for the group as well. "Mother" of the group is Talei Morrison with her children hoping to perform at the nationals for the first time.
Viewers will discover how Sonia Lewis juggles raising three children and nursing studies to meet her kapa haka commitments.
Mataia Keepa (Morrison), Wiremu "Weach" Mako, Byron Thompson, Te Kemara Kennedy, Taumata Solomon, Kereama Wright, Renee Gordon, 17, Jordan Whata, 15, all share their journey through the series.