The future of Te Arawa kapa haka performances is extremely bright if this year's Regional Primary Schools Competition is anything to go by.
Rōpū (groups) mai Maketū ki Tongariro (from Maketū to Tongariro) shared their talents on stage in Rotorua today
Harmonies, guitar, stamping, slapping, the rustle of skirts, and screams and cheers of encouragement filled the Rotorua Energy Events Centre from 9am to 4pm, before the judges' deliberations.
Close to 4000 spectators of all ages, from pēpi to kaumātua, packed out the seating to watch tamariki from 13 kura sing, call and twirl their taiaha and poi.
Twenty-two judges graded the performances across the 11 disciplines included in each performance.
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata took out the overall top placing, followed by Rotorua Intermediate School in second place, Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Tūwharetoa in third and Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai fourth.
Those schools will represent Te Arawa at the national competition in Nelson next year.
Other competitors today
included Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hurungaterangi, Mokoia Intermediate School, Malfroy School, Rotorua Primary School, Whangamarino School,
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Whakarewa i Te Reo Ki Tūwharetoa, Rotorua Intermediate School and Ngā Purapura Whetū.
Darren Haumaha was one of 32 family members who came along to watch his daughter Ngahirata perform with Rotorua Intermediate School.
"She ended up selling the most tickets at her school," he joked.
His favourite part of the day was seeing the whanaungatanga with families and school communities coming together.
"It's lovely to see, it's a beautiful day."
Ngahirata's and her group had "come a long way" he said.
"Their practices have been quite intense the last couple of months ... I've enjoyed seeing the kids grow."
Another Rotorua parent, Chris Haehae was supporting his son Tereomoana performing with Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu.
"Kapa haka has been a part of his life since he was a little baby. It's just part of him," Haehae said.
The Koutu rōpū had been practising "all the time" he said.
"It's been every Friday, every weekend, then every day."
For Haehae, one of the best parts of the competition was "seeing the high skill levels of the kids".
"It's just like watching adults, it's really good."
Mokoia Intermediate principal and Rotorua Principals' Association president Rawiri Wihapi was the chairman of the organising committee, and said the competition was always going to be "fierce".
He said planning for the event began in July and those involved behind the scenes "love doing it for our tamariki".
"Once we knew Covid-19 restrictions were at level 1 we were full steam ahead to ensure this event took place."
"The significance of this event is historical and means everything to each kura who gets the opportunity to perform," he said.