Kia ora to all and welcome to a new year with new discussions. I hope things have started well for you all and that the holidays treated you well.
Let me first acknowledge those who have lost loved ones over the last few months. As they say, there is nothing more to be done - mortality is the fate of us all as it was for the first man, Maui-tikitiki-a-Taranga. But let us leave the world of spirits for now and return to those of us who remain in the world of light. Tena koutou katoa.
It is now time for the people of the Te Arawa region to stand to attention as Rotorua will soon be descended upon by kapa haka fans from all over Aotearoa for Te Matatini o te Ra.
It is up to us to breathe life into this great gathering - it is up to us to promote the values that we wish to share with everyone, to make sure that everything runs smoothly and lead with the highest standards as only Rotorua can.
The kick-off to this upcoming event will be the powhiri - as it should be. On the marae is where the most esoteric aspects of Maori culture are felt - that's where you really see the beauty, intelligence and excellence of tikanga.
It is a really stirring thought - the sound of the putatara conch shell trumpet, the sight of thousands of spectators congregating, the admiration of the challenge that goes out alongside the cry of the karanga and, finally, the bellowing of the haka powhiri. These are the tenets of Maori culture that bring one's spirit to life.
Sometimes passionate anger can be incited at such events and the powhiri becomes a trying test - which is just part of the breadth of culture.
For those who have stood on the Te Matatini stage in the past, there is little that past experiences and emotions could not have prepared them for. However - our stage has a point of difference.
At the moment, master carvers are working in Te Puia to carve beautiful beams, ridgepoles and boards to adorn the stage. I have seen these works of art myself and must say they already look to be valued treasures.
I've also heard that many others from around New Zealand have had a glimpse of the carvings here and there and all have exclaimed at their magnificence.
According to the experts involved, the wood being used is dated as being more than 4000 years old. I would like to show my admiration for those dexterous hands at Te Puia who are taking this opportunity to showcase the best of Maori skill to the world.
It is my knowledge that the kapa haka groups of Te Arawa are now at the stage where they delve deep in practice to hone their upcoming performances for the stage. Ka pai. Some of the groups have been practising for seven or even eight months now - all this intense work for just 30 minutes on the stage. Good luck to them all.
Finally, I must send a big shout-out to all of the workers and volunteers who have helped our organising committee get to the stage we are at. Te Matatini o te Ra is just a few weeks away now and the whole country will be waiting to see what we have turned on.
So you better get out there quick - don't muck around - get online and get your ticket today.
I welcome your feedback. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Post: PO Box 12028, Rotorua 3045. Phone: 07 3503261