Up to 1800 people are expected to attend the 2020 Tangata Rau Festival at the Regent Theatre February 29.
Local iwi Rangitāne will manaaki visitors to the festival and the city.
Event organiser Chris Whaiapu says Tangata Rau means The Multitude.
Rangitāne envisage a festival that exemplifies the cultural richness and vibrancy of local Māori in Palmerston North.
Whaiapu says the festival is "the phenomena of its mystical and spiritual first people that make up the geography and natural elements of the area, rich in its history and kōrero, of an ancient culture, preserving its beauty, and living and thriving with it, in a modern-day world".
"It promotes the status of Rangitāne kapa haka in Palmerston North as a world-class regional competition, showcasing Māori performance excellence through the dynamic, competitive kapa haka the Manawatū and wider region has to offer."
Kapa haka groups have had to earn their spot at the regional competition, vying for the title of Te Toa Ihu Waka – the overall regional winner.
"These campaigns are no easy feat," says Whaiapu.
"They are gruelling, they are long, and they are tough – only the very fittest among us last the four to six-month preparation time required to compete at this level.
"In this arena, kapa haka is the be-all, and end-all of everything."
Supported by the Palmerston North City Council's Arts Event Fund, the regional senior kapa haka competition is a qualifier for Te Matatini National Kapa Haka and will draw participants and spectators from the city and lower North Island.
The Arts Event Fund has helped organisers access judges who are expert in all aspects of Māori culture.
"From composers to both ex and current performers, they are exponents at the top of their fields.
"The fund has helped us to raise the bar and change the game because of it," Whaiapu says.
The Arts Event Fund supports national and regional arts events hosted in Palmerston North.
Applications are open in a contestable process throughout the year, until all funds have been allocated.
Find out more about the fund at www.pncc.govt.nz/council-city/community-funding/arts-event-fund/