Kapa haka rōpū from Te Arawa have been surprised with $5000 each to help them get to New Zealand's premier Māori performing arts event, Te Matatini ki te Ao.
The funding application was made by the Te Arawa Kapa Charitable Trust, and Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust approved the funds before Christmas, handing over the funds at the end of January.
A total of $30,000 was granted meaning $5000 was given to each of the top six Rotorua groups by Waiariki MP and deputy chairman of Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust Tamati Coffey and councillor Trevor Maxwell.
"The purpose is to provide funding to assist our performers as they head to Wellington to represent Rotorua and Te Arawa at the highest level of Māori performing arts in NZ," Coffey said.
The trust had never funded Rotorua performers travelling away to Te Matatini before, he said
Each group had 40 onstage performers, reserves, and often had another bus of supportive whānau in tow.
The MP believed the funding would allow each rōpū to focus on their performances and not their pockets.
"From piupiu to buses, marae stays to petrol. Kapa (groups) are tasked every two years with finding the funds to be able to compete.
"The rōpū were 'happily stunned' to receive the funding from the trust for the first time, many giving thanks in the form of impromptu speeches, waiata and a good old mihi and a kihi (greet and kiss)."
Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust chairman Stewart Edward said kapa haka was an important fabric of Rotorua community and he was happy to support the groups.
Edward said kapa haka was a major cultural activity in Māoridom and tremendously well supported by Te Arawa locally so it was important for the trust to help financially.
"It's a big job to get people there and supporters, and there is a lot of fundraising that goes on to make it all happen."
Edward said they were seeing kapa haka represent more than just the cultural activity on the stage.
"It's the energy of the young people striving for excellence in a particular field of endeavour. It's young people looking to achieve goals in health and physical fitness and cultural understanding.
"It is as much as anything in helping strengthen communities."
Maxwell said it had been great to see the people of Te Arawa getting right behind the six groups heading to Te Matatini this month and even more so to meet the groups when handing out the money.
"It was really neat to meet them all and wish them all the best and give my support.
"I said to them there was no pressure, but I hope to see all six groups in the finals on Sunday."
People are urged to secure their tickets to the performing arts event at Westpac Stadium from February 21.
Hosted in a different location every two years, the four-day national kapa haka festival attracts thousands of people to watch the top rōpū from around the country.
Interest in the festival is high with 5600 tickets already sold and Te Matatini chief executive Carl Ross said there was already a lengthy waiting list for corporate tickets.
"Tickets to the Te Matatini corporate lounges sold out in less than a minute after being released. This is indicative of the huge interests in the festival.
"Unfortunately, because of this interest, some of our whānau have fallen victim to ticket scalping via the Viagogo website, some paying over double the normal ticket price."
He said there were still general admission tickets available and he encouraged people to buy Te Matatini tickets through the official Ticketek website.
TE IHU – POOL A - Rāpare 21 Hui Tanguru
Te Reanga Morehu o Ratana
Ngā Purapura o Te Tai Hauāuru
Te Iti Kahurangi
Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti
Te Manu Huia
Te Whānau a Apanui
TE KEI – POOL B – Rāhoroi 23 Hui Tanguru
Te Puu Ao
Ngā Manu a Tāne
Ngā Uri Taniwha
Tauira Mai Tawhiti
Te Tini o Rēhua
Te Waka Huia
Te Rangiura o Wairarapa
Manawa Mai Tawhiti
Te Pou o Mangatāwhiri
Te Mātārae I Ōrehu
Mōtai Tangata Rau
Te Hoe ki Matangireia
TE HAUMI - POOL C - Rāmere 22 Hui Tanguru
Te Pikikōtuku o Rongomai
Tū Te Maungaroa
Te Whānau a Kai
Te Rōpū Manutaki
Te Taha Tū
Te Rerenga Kōtuku
Ngā Pou o Taniwharau
Ngā Taonga Mai Tawhiti
Tū Te Manawa Maurea
Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti
Te Tū Mataora