The Pātea Māori Club has performed its 1984 hit Poi E thousands of times but its members still perk up when they see the crowd's reaction.
"As soon as it starts you see the reaction and you light up," tutor Maryanne Broughton said.
Twenty club members will be getting into a hired van at 6am on Tuesday to drive to Auckland and receive the 2021 Independent Music NZ Classic Record award at the Taite Music Prize.
Their sound check is at 2.30pm and they will be performing with groups like L.A.B. and The Beths, groups that released albums in 2020. Yet their song is popular nearly 40 years after Dalvanius Prime and Ngoi Pēwhairangi put it together.
It got a fresh surge of popularity from Taika Waititi's 2010 movie Boy, and then the 2016 film Poi E: The story of our song.
Broughton is Prime's cousin and she joined the club in 1967, aged 13.
She and club trustee Janine Maruera find it hard to say exactly what the club is. It's family, it's a group of about 80 who perform and it's a place where tikanga Māori is maintained.
"Coming here for us, this is our marae. It's a place of learning and we hold lots of things here," Maruera said.
The club is open to anyone. It spans the Ngā Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui rohe, and uses Ngāti Ruanui protocols.
It does paid performances for all kinds of occasions, including sports events, birthday parties and tangi.
Its biggest audience was at the 2010 Christmas in the Park in Auckland.
Its members have performed overseas in China, Japan and Italy.
They are not paid for their time. Meals, transport and accommodation are usually provided, but those going to Auckland will have to take two days' leave from work.
"It's all for love," Maruera said.
The club has stayed financial through the skills of previous chairs John Nyman, Sam Prime and Laura Maruera. Its newest chairman is Jim Turahui.
Practices are on Monday nights.
Out-of-town members will be flying to Auckland to join the others for the April 20 prizegiving.
New Zealand has lots of culture clubs. Pātea's was started by people from Pariroa Pā, then taken on by minister Napi Waaka, who called it the Pātea Methodist Māori Club.
By 1983, when Dalvanius Prime was touring with his sister Barletta as The Fascinations, it was the South Taranaki Māori Club.
Prime went to the club with a song and an idea. The song was Poi E, composed by himself and Pēwhairangi. The idea was to take it to a national kapa haka competition in 1983.
It won first equal, and was the top-selling New Zealand single when released in 1984.
Ten people who performed in the 1983 competition will do it again in Auckland on April 20.
Prime was particular about how the song was done, Broughton said.
"He would say 'Get up to those mikes', 'You are flat" and 'Don't do it like that'."
When the song came out, some iwi said te reo Māori should not be put to that sort of music. But their disapproval was swept away by the song's popularity.
"Thank goodness [Dalvanius] was stuborn and didn't give in. Next minute everyone is jumping on the bandwagon."
He made the club, Maruera said, and he got it to buy a hall. Since Poi E, its members have kept practising, because they never know when they will be asked to perform.
2020 was quiet because of Covid, but they had had four gigs so far this year and the club was reviving, Broughton said.
Sometimes it performs traditionally, to guitar played by Maruera's husband Andy.
But most people want the full orchestral sound and members sing live over a backing CD made by Prime and friends in Auckland in 1983, and paid for by donations.
"He put his own company together, Maui Records, because at that time nobody would pick it up and run with it," Broughton said.
The club's uniforms are kept in the hall, and its piupiu were made four years ago by an auntie from the Bay of Plenty.
Current members are ageing, but new ones are coming through, Maruera said.
She first heard Poi E while still at school, and it made her proud of her town and culture. Later she felt privileged to join the club, learn the songs and stand beside "those famous aunties" she had seen on TV.
Maruera and her husband tutor Aotea Utanganui, a competitive kapa haka group. It includes members of the club but is kept slightly separate. Other club members perform in a 55-plus kapa haka group, Taranaki ki te Tonga Taikura.
This week the club is mourning the death of kaumātua Archie Hurunui, a former member, composer, adviser and spokesperson.