Te Matatini: Manaia sends a message to their rivals

By Greg Taipari

Te Arawa group Manaia sent a message to their Matatini rivals, they mean business and they did it in style through the power of song and haka.

The second day of Te Matatini Kapa Haka Festival was another bake fest, with temperatures reaching the high 20s, the more than 10,000 spectators were treated to a gluttony of high quality kapa haka performances. None more so than Te Arawa's second group, Manaia.

Manaia kaitataki tane (male leader) Eraia Kiel commanded the stage with his powerful performance. He was backed up by his partner and kaitataki wahine (female leader) Tania Fraser. The group showed just how rich the iwi is in their culture. After a rousing performance on Thursday by Kataore, Manaia, through the use of Timua Brennan's operatic voice and the rich tapestry of sound from the rest of the group, lifted their performance beyond the heavens.

In what may have been pure coincidence, Manaia's performance coincided almost to the minute with the second anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake and their haka was a message sounding out a warning to all New Zealanders about taking care of the land.

"The overall message was about looking after our whenua (land) Papatuanuku (mother earth)...

"That was the hope was to take heed of all these calls of our Atua (God) the ruwhenua (earthquake), tsunamis and all those.

"From a Maori perspective that's our Atua trying to tell us to wake up and heed those calls," Mr Kiel said.

"To stop raping the minerals out of mother earth and our message is, should we keep on doing that? [Giving] more food to the fire?"

Mr Kiel's performance had extra meaning for the leader because the land which the stadium stands on belongs to his tipuna (ancestors).

"It means a hell of a lot. Being here in Rotorua, it's really special. We've been waiting a long time for Matatini to return to Te Arawa. So a very special moment for us and Manaia."

It is the third nationals in a row for the group and Mr Kiel said his group gave it everything.

"I'm extremely proud of all our members. Everybody sacrifices a lot to get here and it's great to get it out of the way.

But extremely proud of all the Te Arawa roopu (groups).

"We've got a hell of a strong representation and we can't wait to see our brothers and sisters from all the other roopu [perform]."

Mr Kiel won't have long to wait as the remaining four groups compete today in the third and final pool.

After all the groups have performed, the judges scores will be tallied and the top three groups from each pool will perform in the finals on Sunday.

Finals start at 8.45am on Sunday and finish at 2.55pm. Prizegiving is between 3.15pm and 4.30pm.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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