Te Matatini is the biggest gathering of Māoridom, attracting tens of thousands of kapa haka fanatics, as well as the hundreds of thousands who watch via the live broadcasts. Te Matatini, aptly named by Dr Wharehuia Milroy means "the multitude of faces", from all walks of life and generations.

Hosted two years ago by Ngāti Kahungunu, it is always an ambitious task to do better than the former hosts and take the already internationally acclaimed event to a new level. The gracious hosts of Te Whanganui-a-Tara did just that, providing an amazing venue that catered for the tens of thousands of spectators who flooded through the gates daily.

Te Matatini was another vehicle for the revitalisation of te reo Māori, pumping nothing but our language for the past five days in the capital, blasting and resounding from the Cake Tin between the skyscrapers, through streets and corridors, making its mark on the nation's capital that te ao Māori descended upon the great Bay of Tara.

A total 48 groups from across the nation and Australia battled it out on the stage, all in the hope of the revered Duncan MacIntyre trophy. For many groups it has been a lifelong dream to just get to the festival and represent their region.


There are huge sacrifices by these groups - finance, time away from family, not to mention the huge physical commitment it takes to master a bracket. Kapa haka is a lifestyle for many; children are born into the movement, lives revolve around it, all in the name of being Māori and proud.

I salute the hosts of the 2019 festival and congratulate the winners.

On Thursday last week I sat at Te Matatini, amazed as I heard the melodic sounds of Māori performing arts echoing through Wellington.

No doubt the winning teams' names will be plastered through Facebook and they should be proud of their win.

I applaud all participants and their families for the time and motivation in enduring the extreme hard work portrayed through their performances.