Wellington City Council has put a spin on this week's Kapa Haka Festival by installing special "haka lantern" pedestrian crossing lights.

In honour of the Te Matatini kapa haka festival at the Westpac Trust Stadium the council has installed lanterns at seven locations across the city.

The lanterns see the iconic walking image at pedestrian crossings changed to a wahine and a warrior demonstrating a haka.

"The hosting of Te Matatini - the pinnacle event for Māori performing arts – is a proud moment for Wellington, and the haka lanterns reflect the critical role mana whenua and tangata whenua play in our city," Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said.

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"The vision was to have these installed as a piki mai ki Pōneke – a welcome to Wellington.

"With help from the NZ Transport Agency, we have been able to get them up in time for Te Matatini, so thousands of festival-goers can enjoy them."

The Te Matatini kapa haka festival kicked off today with a pōhiri at Waitangi Park.

About 60,000 people are expected to visit the capital during the four-day festival. It is the first time since 1998 that the festival has visited Wellington.

Held every two years, it is one of the most highly anticipated events for performers, their whānau and the mass of passionate Kapa Haka fans throughout the world.

Forty-six teams are representing 13 regions within New Zealand and Australia.

The lanterns will be installed indefinitely at the following locations; Taranaki St, Dixon St, Courtenay Pl and Manners St intersection; Cnr Taranaki St, Jervois Quay; Cnr Taranaki and Cable Sts; Cnr Jervois Quay and Cable Sts; Cnr Cable and Tory Sts; Cnr Cable St and Oriental Pde; Cnr Cable and Chaffers Sts.