It was a fairly simple choice for 5-year-old Mareikura Te Nahu yesterday at national kapa haka festival Te Matatini in Hastings. She wanted to be like her nan.

It was thus an obliging nan Anahera Bowen and a happy mokopuna as the pair sported their moko kauae, one of hundreds of chin tattoo-markings fixed by a team at one of the stalls on the first day of the festival which has attracted 47 groups and which ends on Sunday.

After watching two sons and Mareikura's mum in the performance of championships prospect and Rotorua club Ngati Rangiwewehi Kapa Haka, nan and mokopuna made a typical pair in the mix of whanau, aroha and kotahitanga which gripped the festival as it engulfed the regional sports park, or Kahungunu Park as it is known for the festival month.

The moko artist applying fixed-paint tattoos, with glitter, found Mareikura a startling subject, and the treatment for the mokopuna was another part of the awe nan Bowen found at the event, despite previous experiences with Te Matatini, both performing and watching.


"My god, she's getting the five-start treatment," she said as the finishing touches were made.

The nan was at the Rotorua festival which in 2013 introduced the 24-tonne, 30m wide, 13m high especially carved native timbers mahau which front the festival stage and never expected to see anything surpass either that occasion, nor Te Matatini 2015 in Christchurch.

They're here for all four days, two more awaiting, with fingers crossed, the naming of the nine finalists on Saturday night.

But there are some things that have already been decided and, looking across the array of stalls and the food court towards the arena, she said: "Yes, this does take it to another level."