Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

24 year wait for kapa haka festival

Rotorua and Te Arawa will not host Te Matatini, the national kapa haka festival, again until 2037.

Changes to the festival's national roster, put in place by Te Matatini Society yesterday, will now see each of New Zealand's 12 kapa haka rohe (regions) host the biennial event in order, with the last regions to host the event moved to the back of the queue.

The news is disappointing for Rotorua and Te Arawa's festival organisers, but not unexpected, with organisers saying it was only fair to the other regions keen to host it.

In a statement Te Matatini chairman Selwyn Parata said regional kapa haka organisations and local iwi would no longer be required to bid to host Te Matatini.

The changes mean each of the 12 kapa haka rohe have been allocated a year to host Te Matatini beginning in 2017, after the 2015 festival being hosted by Waitaha, in Christchurch.

Rotorua is not scheduled to host Te Matatini again until 2037 - 24 years after this year's successful event brought an estimated 40,000 people and between $15 million and $20 million to the city for the four-day event.

"The new system gives each of the 12 rohe in Aotearoa the opportunity to host the national championships once in the next 24 years, removing the significant time and costs associated with a competitive bid process," Mr Parata said.

"The changes mean no rohe will miss out on being able to host this national event and will ensure that each group is prepared in advance when such a large-scale event is staged in their area."

Mr Parata said if a rohe cannot host the festival in the year allocated, the system provides enough time for another host rohe to be found.

Te Arawa's Te Matatini director for 2013 Monty Morrison said while he was disappointed with the announcement the new schedule was fair to all.

"It was an idea floated after Te Matatini in Rotorua, they have been looking at a fair and equitable system for some time.

"As Te Arawa it is a disappointing feeling, considering it was one of the most successful festivals to date.

"I think Te Arawa and Rotorua can be rightfully proud of their achievements, I have heard nothing but praise for our event," he said.

Destination Rotorua Marketing general manager Oscar Nathan said while it was disappointing, there were opportunities for Rotorua to host cultural events in the years between the biennial event.

"While they have looked to the long term, this is obviously disappointing for Te Arawa not to be able to host it again for a quarter of a century."

Mr Nathan said Rotorua remained a strong proposition if any of the host regions could not host their allocated event.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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