Performers at this year's Aotea Region kapa haka competition will be on a huge outdoor stage with the Rātana temple as a backdrop.

It's the first time Rātana has hosted the contest, and the Te Reanga Mōrehu o Rātana Trust is planning something special for the Rātana movement's centenary year, chairman Kamaka Manuel said.

"One of the visions of our hosting committee was to provide a kapa haka environment modelled on Te Matatini [the biennial national cultural festival]."

The competition at the pa will probably take all day on February 24. As well as the big outdoor stage there will be food and information stalls, and 80 volunteers to run the show.


"We were thinking this would be something that's whanau-based and allow people to come to the pa and enjoy the surroundings," Mr Manuel said.

Māori TV is to film the performances. Watchers will be charged - children under-5 free, children 5-10 pay $5 and everyone else will pay $10.

In the Aotea Region the competition is usually held in June or July - but in other parts of New Zealand it's usually in summer. The trust has asked for the change to a summer event, which may set a precedent.

There are nine teams confirmed for the competition. Te Reanga Mōrehu o Rātana, the Rātana kapa haka group, has won the last five regionals.

Also competing from Whanganui will be Te Matapihi and Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua, and there are four Taranaki groups.

The best three groups will go on to compete in February 2019, at Te Matatini in Wellington.

The pōwhiri for the regional competition takes place at Rātana on February 23, at 1pm.