Students from five Northland schools have spent months getting ready for national primary schools kapa haka competition Te Mana Kuratahi.
Roopu (groups) from Northland schools Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o te Rāwhitiroa, Te Kāpehu Whetū - Paenuku, Kawakawa Primary School and Hora Hora Primary School will be heading to Hamilton next month to compete at the competition.
The groups qualified after placing in the top five at the regional competition held in Whangārei last year.
Fred Henare, Te Tai Tokerau delegate on Te Mana Kuratahi's national committee and kapa haka manager for Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o te Rāwhitiroa's group Te Roopu Takawaenga o te Rāwhitiroa, said the students spend anywhere from an hour or two to a full day practising in the weeks leading up to the competition.
He said the roopu were "humbled" to qualify for the national competition.
"Our kids, we train hard to win just like anything ... For us it's really about the performance - how they feel when they walk on stage and walk off. The results are basically a bonus for us."
• High standard of performance at Northland kapa haka regionals
• Northland schools to compete at Te Tai Tokerau Primary Kapa Haka Regionals
• Whangarei kura number one at Northland kapa haka regionals
Kararaina Herbert, tumu hāpai mō te Kura Teina (deputy principal in Kura Teina)
and kaiako tau 8 (Year 8 teacher) at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, said the school was very proud of their roopu, Ngā Māhuri.
"To be placed in the top three qualifying spots for Te Mana Kuratahi is purely a reflection of the hard yards put in to the preparation phase by the kids and the tutors."
Ngā Māhuri has qualified for nationals at every regional event since its inception and Herbert said preparations for the competition begin early on.
"Through the year, training times and practice days gradually increase. The closer to event day we get, the tamariki become more and more confident, competent, resilient, and mentally and physically prepared to take the national stage."
Horrace Maunsell, tutor for Kawakawa Primary School's group Te Raupo Manawa o Kawakawa, said the students were "really excited" for nationals.
"All that training they do is pointed towards the 25 minutes on stage so they're looking forward to that."
Kawakawa Primary School teacher and group manager Jess Henare said the students had been training hard for the competition.
"We have 45 kids in the group so every second weekend they come to school and we stay at school Friday night all the way through til Sunday and we train the whole time."
She said to raise funds the school was holding a whānau photo shoot during the holidays with traditional Māori clothing or taonga. People can email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.
Paula La Vavasour, tutor of Hora Hora Primary School's Ngā Mataapuna o Hora Hora, said this will be the school's first national kapa haka competition.
"Our whole school and kapa whānau were so excited and humbled to be representing Tai Tokerau on the national stage. Such a huge honour.
"We get to be part of the biggest primary school kapa haka event in the world and we also get to watch some of the best kapa haka throughout Aotearoa."
The Northern Advocate sent questions to Te Kāpehu Whetū but did not receive a response by edition time yesterday.