When you think of the words "folk festival" and "Italy" kapa haka is probably not the first thing that springs to mind.

But those three things will meet when Whangarei kapa haka roopu Hatea head to Italy at the end of the month for Estate Internazionale del Folklore 2016 - an international folk festival in Castrovillari, southern Italy.

The group's tutor Joby Hopa said he heard about the festival through a friend who encouraged the Pehiaweri Marae-based kapa haka group to take part. He said the organisers of the festival were looking for acts from around the world.

"I'm super excited, I'm taking my two eldest kids. Just the fact that we have been running for about 15, 16 years, to be able to take our marae to the world is very exciting," he said.


Mr Hopa said 25 members would be heading over to Italy on July 30 and would return on August 20. For some group members the trip would be their first time on a plane.

"We've [Hatea] been to Hawaii to perform and Sydney so this is our third major performance overseas and our first time to Europe. We go around the southern part [of Italy] and we'll be in Sicily. We're visiting some Maori Battalion sites and will be going around the smaller towns," he said.

Hatea Kapa Haka group won the 2016 Te Tai Tokerau Kapa Haka Regionals in April while their sub-group Whangarei-Mai-Tawhiti recently won the Te Wananga o Aotearoa Kapa Haka Super 12 for the fifth time last week.

The competition saw teams of 12 battle it out for 12 minutes apiece.

"We're practising for all sorts of things, practice never ends. For Italy we're doing everything we know, a bit of regionals, a bit of Super 12, we want to utilise all of it," he said.

Mr Hopa said the group had been busy fundraising for the trip. He said the $12,000 won by Whangarei-Mai-Tawhiti at the Super 12s would be split between members with some going towards the Italy trip.