Rotorua Boys' and Girls' high schools group Te Roopu Raukura have won the major honour at the national secondary schools kapa haka festival in Napier.

Carrying the name of the boys high's haka, Raukura figured in a particularly close contest but won the overall aggregate on the final day at Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale, featuring nine of the groups among the 39 which took part in the four days of competitions.

About 1600 people took part in the performances, from as far afield as Kaitaia and Invercargill, with the festival bringing an estimated 4000 people to Hawke's Bay for the week.

In a twist of fate, Raukura was one of four Te Arawa groups drawn among the 13 in Pool C, and after winning their round on Thursday had to pull out all stops for a second consecutive day to beat several strong strong challengers.


Auckland's Western Springs College group Nga Puna o Waiorea was runner-up and third place went to Huntly school Te Wharekura o Raakaumangamanga, which won the supreme title at the 2014 festival in Gisborne.

The closeness was highlighted by results across the categories, with several multiple-group dead heats despite the introduction of a judging system similar to that used for such things as Olympic Games gymnastics. With 14 judges lining up each day, the highest and the lowest scores for each group would be discarded from the calculation and the rest averaged to produce a group's score.

Raukura were joint winners in Te Mita o te Reo, Whakaeke, Moteatea, Poi, and Whakawatea.

While none of the three host Hawke's Bay area Te Matau-a-Maui groups reached the finals, Te Aute College won Mau Rakau honours, based on their performance with taiaha.

A feature of the Thursday performances was that of Manawatu boys' school Hato Paora with poi, after organisers reconsidered a rule change which would have barred males from including poi in their routines.