A Whangarei kapa haka group's innovative, contemporary take on traditional kapa haka has carried it to success again.
Whangarei-Mai-Tawhiti won the 2degrees Kapa Haka Super 12s competition on Saturday for the fourth successive time at The Cloud in Auckland.
The team of 12 kaihaka performed in front of a 3000-strong crowd with a routine featuring hula-hoop piupiu (skirts), rousing choral performances, and a cheeky take on jumping string games.
"It's using contemporary ideas while keeping it based on tikanga. It's good to see what's out there and see us test innovative new ideas, especially our sound making," said group member Joby Hopa.
Whangarei Mai Tawhiti is an offshoot of the Hatea Kapa Haka group, who were one of the Northland roopu (groups) who headed to the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competition in Christchurch this year.
Mr Hopa said the Super 12 competition was "quite different" to performing at Te Matatini where each group had 25 minutes to perform. Second place went to Tu Whitia from Auckland with Toka Tu Moana from Rotorua/Taupo third.
The 2degrees Kapa Haka Super 12s, which celebrates excellence and innovation in the traditional Maori performing art, is one of the most popular events in Auckland Council's month-long Matariki Festival.
Teams are given creative licence to produce a high energy stage performance based on their interpretation of traditional Maori performing arts including poi, waiata and haka.
This year's Super 12s included The Curtain Raiser secondary schools' competition with Nga Puna o Waiorea from Western Springs College winning the inaugural event. Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga from Huntly were placed second and Te Roopu Rangatahi o Ritana from Gisborne's Lytton High School were third.
Councillor Alf Filipaina, Arts, Culture & Events chair said the calibre of performances this year was outstanding.
"It was fantastic to see the energy, enthusiasm and sheer talent displayed by the competitors," he said.