The harmonic voices of Hātea Kapa Haka took to the stage yesterday with their rendition of Freddie Mercury's Bohemian Rhapsody.

The group, from Whangārei, have found online fame last year after their cover of Queen's iconic hit in te reo Māori went viral on Facebook.

The group, who collaborated with internet sensation William Wairua, created the music video as a way to pay tribute to the band's lead singer, Freddie Mercury, and to celebrate the release of the Queen biopic, also titled Bohemian Rhapsody.

Hātea Kapa Haka head tutor Pauline Hopa said: "I have always loved the song Bohemian Rhapsody. But never in my life did I think that we would be part of something this big."


The song was released in 1975 from the band's album A Night at the Opera.

Yesterday, the group joined performers at the country's national kapa haka festival, Te Matatini.

Wellington is hosting the event, the first time it has been held in the city for 20 years.
There are 46 teams taking part, with 44 from New Zealand, including three from Wellington. There is also a team each from the Australian cities of Perth and Sydney.

The stage incorporates the world's largest carving, Te Mahau Ko Te Matatini, which spans more than 30m and towers more than 13m into the air.

It's not all about what's happening on the stage, Te Puni Kōkiri chief executive Michelle Hippolite said.

"It's the whānau that turn up in droves to support their loved ones, immerse themselves in a te reo Māori environment and connect with others they may not have seen for ages."

Wellington City Council has put a spin on the festival by installing special "haka lantern" pedestrian crossing lights.

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


Full coverage of Te Matatini