Crowds cheered and screamed in support and whānau shed tears as they proudly watched their tamariki perform at the Northland kapa haka regionals.

Thirteen groups from Northland primary and intermediate schools took to the stage to compete at the Maranga Mai E Te Iwi - Primary and Intermediate School Kapa Haka Regionals at ASB Stadium on Saturday.

Joby Hopa, chairman of the Waitangi Cultural Committee - which organises the event, said at least 500 people came through the stadium throughout the day to watch the groups perform.

"It was a family day. Because it's the kids I don't think it's so much competition. It's more about celebrating the kids getting up and seeing how awesome that is. It was nice vibe," he said.

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The rōpu (groups) from primary schools took to the stage for the first half of the day and the intermediate schools followed. Separate prize givings were held for each division but the top five schools overall qualified for the national competition in Waikato next year, where groups will compete against schools from around the country.

The top five groups were Ngā Mahuri (Te Rangi Aniwaniwa), Te Roopu Takawaenga o te Rawhitiroa (Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rawhiti Roa), Te Kāpehu Whetū - Paenuku, Te Raupo Manawa o Kawakawa (Kawakawa Intermediate School), and Ngā Matapuna o Hora Hora (Hora Hora Primary School).

Hopa said the standard of performance had lifted, and there had been growth.

"What I mean by growth is you're not finding that all the groups are doing the same items any more. The tutors have grown, the groups have grown so we can see really good growth for kapa haka in the north," he said.

Photographer John Stone captured some of the performances.

Whangārei Intermediate School's Perell Koroi-Edwards (centre). Photo/John Stone
Whangārei Intermediate School's Perell Koroi-Edwards (centre). Photo/John Stone
Roimata Clark-Fairclough during Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro's poi item. Photo/John Stone
Roimata Clark-Fairclough during Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro's poi item. Photo/John Stone
Whangārei Intermediate School's Kian Porett fiercely performs. Photo/John Stone
Whangārei Intermediate School's Kian Porett fiercely performs. Photo/John Stone