On Saturday, at the end of an electrifying 25 minutes on the kapa haka stage at Te Matatini, the Hastings performers will have given their all.
The sweat will be pouring off them but the pride will be immense, says Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga performer and Hastings District councillor Bayden Barber.
Te Matatini, known as the Olympics of Kapa Haka, starts on Thursday at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park, renamed Kahungunu Park for this very special month.
The last time Te Matatini was held in Hawke’s Bay was in 1983; the next one will not be for another 20-plus years; so it really is a once-in-a-generation chance to watch world-class kapa haka in our own backyard.
It will be Mr Barber’s second Te Matatini; he competed in Rotorua in 2013.
He says the feeling on stage is “electric”.
“The excitement levels are huge.
“To me the single word that describes performing at Matatini is ‘Turangawaewae'. It literally means ‘a place to stand'. Performing at Te Matatini is about representing your home, your hapu and iwi. It's an opportunity to tell your stories in waiata and haka, standing on the shoulders of your ancestors that have passed on.”
The Hastings-based team, one of four representing Kahungunu, is made up of performers from the numerous marae across the district.
“We are all passionate about who we are and where we are from.”
While hosting Te Matatini is an “honour and a privilege”; it does add pressure to put on an “awe-inspiring performance”.
“There is a lot of pride on the line. As a host group you want to put on an especially great show.”
Each performance team is 40-strong. The 47 teams from across New Zealand and Australia will all perform over the first three days, after which the top nine will compete to become the winners of Te Matatini 2017.
It is the culmination of “many hundreds of hours of work from a multitude of people; right from the composers and choreographers, to the performers and all their supporters.”
“It is a huge commitment – getting towards the big day there are full weekend practices; mid-week practices, and individual preparation.”
And then there is walking out onto the Te Matatini stage.
“The stage we practice on is relatively small. When you walk out at Te Matatini it feels like a football field.
“It is crucial that we don’t get overwhelmed at that moment. We have 25 minutes from start to finish and we have to make the most of it. We have to all give 100 per cent; and we will.”
By the time they get off the stage they will have “sweat pouring off” them; “but it will have been worth it.”
And then there will be the wait to see if they have made the final nine.
“Of course we hope we will; but regardless, if we’ve left everything on the stage, all the preparation and sacrifice would have been worth it,” says Mr Barber.
Phone 06 871 5056 or 027 275 5205
4 October 2017
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