Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell last week swapped Parliament for Te Matatini. Here he talks about his role and what the event means to him
What is your role at Te Matatini this year?
I have the role as stage manager. This involves all matters that affect performing groups from the time they arrive at the gate, through their performance and back to their buses. We are also responsible for supervising the stage walk-throughs, which are a timed opportunity for groups to go through their brackets before they actually take the stage.
Why have you chosen to roll up your sleeves to take part?
Te Arawa have a huge responsibility in hosting this festival to ensure it is the best festival ever. I hope that I can contribute to that along with the many other Te Arawa volunteers. It's also important to me to support activities which promote Te Arawa, and our language and culture in general.
I have been a performer in the past at the national competitions so this is an opportunity to give something back. Over the last 10 years I have had the role for our local competitions and, while I enjoy kapa haka, I struggle to stay seated too long so prefer to be involved doing something rather than actively watching.
Have you done it before?
Yes. I have worked at every Te Arawa Senior competition and secondary school competition over the last 10 years. I have done the same job at the National Secondary Schools Competition in Rotorua and I have been stage manager at the last two Te Matatini festivals at Tauranga and Gisborne.
What are the highlights working behind the scenes at Te Matatini?
Working with the events team to ensure that the performers have the best conditions to allow them to express themselves with the 30 minutes they have set aside for their programme and seeing the teamwork and innovation that teams bring to the stage.
I enjoy watching people coming together to witness an awe-inspiring competition with the best of the best in performing arts and how all of those involved give their all for that 30-minute performance. It is very inspiring.
Who are you supporting at Te Matatini and why?
I personally do not have any favourites as such, but since my own Ngati Rangiwewehi whanau are not in, I am hopeful that our Te Arawa groups will do well.
What are the benefits to Rotorua playing host to such a competition?
There is a certain pride for us of Te Arawa to host the festival where we can express manaakitanga (hospitality) to our visitors in every way and provide an event that will be unforgettable.
I believe that this will be the case.
Our own groups will lift the bar of that I am sure in their own performances so will be hugely motivated to do well.
There are certainly going to be huge economic benefits to the city. It has been great to see the many agencies come together with the huge voluntary workforce.
Tell us why kapa haka and festivals like Te Matatini are so important to Maori culture.
Festivals held throughout the country are events which give all of those involved a real sense of pride in who we are.
The Maori language is the key to the Maori world and so events that promote our language are crucial to Maori maintaining our language and culture.