The global stage is where the Te Matatini board and the Government hope to take the kapa haka event.
And the $30 million funding increase given to Te Matatini in last week’s Budget will help catapult the indigenous tournament into a big-time must-see global event.
Te Matatini CEO Carl Ross said on the back of the hugely successful event held in Tamaki Makaurau this year, where 1.8 million people tuned in to watch the 3 day event (almost 730,000 New Zealanders watched the live broadcast on TVNZ 2, while 188,000 streamed the festival on TVNZ) it was not inconceivable to see Te Matatini become a global viewing event.
“Yes it was a huge success and the post-festival impact evaluation report shows the growing interest in kapa haka with 95 per cent of the people attending the festival indicating they were likely to attend again in the future,” Ross told the Herald.
“The growing interest in Te Matatini is from a diverse audience. People love the interaction that kapa haka provides. We held a mass haka on one of the days at the festival and everyone on the stands and sitting in front of the stage stood to participate. It was a wonderful sight to see.”
Ross said the board has now been given the resources to dream big.
“The board has discussed this and you will see that our new vision has in it Matatini ki te ao - to take Te Matatini global.
”We have strategic partners who support Te Matatini like Air NZ whose in-house entertainment shows kapa haka to travellers from across the world. Kapa haka groups are now included in government delegations that travel overseas, again showcasing the unique culture of Aotearoa. We work closely with Tourism NZ and New Zealand Māori Tourism. People want to see our indigenous culture and we want to showcase it to the world.
“Our vision is - Mana Motuhake ki te kainga: Matatū, Mataora, Matatini ki te ao - rohe led and Te Matatini enabled. We want to see the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of our people thrive.”
Associate Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Willow Jean Prime whose portfolio oversees Te Matatini, said the global viewing challenge had been laid down by Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who has noticed an uptake in indigenous events around the world.
“Foreign Affairs Minister Mahuta has planted that seed because it is something she is noticing on the international stage,” Prime told the Herald.
“She has talked to a lot of countries and our indigeneity and the strength of our culture is a point of difference.
“There are many indigenous events that are becoming global.”
Prime said Te Matatini 2023 was not just about Māori.
“What we felt was everyone was proud to be Māori, proud to hear our waiata, watch our kapa haka but it was a huge celebration for Māori and Pākehā alike.
“The tools have been given to the Te Matatini Board and what I want people to understand about this funding is it’s not just the two year event - while that’s important - this funding is about growing kapa haka in a rohe based way and let each rohe decide how they grow it and what that look like for them.”
The funding breakdown is the Te Matatini head office, run by Ross, distributes 70 per cent of the funding to the rohe.
“We have an existing framework in place for distributing funds to our 12 regions within Aotearoa. In the year when the festival is not being held we distribute a regional development fund based on the number of kapa haka teams in each region. This contribution varies depending on the size of the rohe,” Ross said.
“We will continue to use this model to distribute these additional funds. It is an equitable funding model, approved by the Te Matatini National Board, which has been in place for some time now. Aligned with Te Matatini’s new vision Mana Motuhake ki te kainga: Matatū, Mataora, Matatini ki te ao - rohe led and Te Matatini enabled, it now means we have the funding to support the kapa haka aspirations of each rohe. This is an exciting development that will benefit not only whānau Māori but the entire community.”
He said to go from $1.9 million funding package - it went up to $2.9m to stage the 2023 event - per annum to $17m a year was more than a jolt in the arm.
“It is very exciting to get this acknowledgement from Government of the positive impact kapa haka has on our society.
“To stage the Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata festival in Tāmaki at Ngā Ana Wai Eden Park this year, cost $7m. The $2.9m contributes to the operational costs of Te Matatini’s head office, the board and our subsidiary Aotearoa Kapa Haka Ltd.”
He said they had no prior notice of the massive funding increase.
“We had no advance warning of the outcome of the Budget announcement and like everyone else had to wait for the announcement at 2pm. There was a lot of speculation but the chief executive of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage was clear that we would know the outcome when the Budget was announced.
“My team and I were ecstatic to hear the news for our kapa haka whānau who last year celebrated our 50-year anniversary.”