Te Matatini is a national Māori Performing arts festival in which Kapa Haka performers from all around Aotearoa (New Zealand) come together to compete for the noble and honour of winning the Te Matatini festival. The name was given by Professor Wharehuia Milroy, a composite of Te Mata meaning the face and tini denoting many — hence the meaning of Te Matatini is many faces.
The Te Matatini festival is held every two years in different regions of New Zealand. Authority (mana) is given to different tribes (iwi) to host the festival. For example, in 2017 the mana was given to Te Whanganui-a-Tara on behalf of the Ngati Kahungungu (Heretaunga) region.
Mead (2003) explains, Mana is undergone by a set of rules before it is given, the people or person in charge has to accept these constraints and strive to rise above them in order to do the job that is set before them.
Te Matatini is seen as playing a very important role within Maoridom in promoting the tikanga of the Māori culture and Kapa Haka. It provides a valuable experience for the people of New Zealand and others from all around the world, with the festival attracting up to 30,000 participants and spectators. Te Matatini celebrates the Maori culture, its beauty, and its core values. Kapa Haka is a form of Maori identity and contributes to New Zealand being unique.
The Te Matatini Society is the driving force behind Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival. Initially emerging in the late 1960s, it has evolved into the sponsor of a variety of Maori festivals and Polynesian events. The society in its current form was established in 1972 and has focused on the long term nurturing of Maori performing arts.
The Outline of the Competition
|Day||What each day consists of||Explanation|
|1||Pōwhiri by the Tangata Whenua||All Kapa Haka performers, supporters, dignitaries and visitors are welcomed by the local hosts.|
|2 - 4||Pool Rounds|
|5||The Finals (Te Matangirua)||The finalists are judged anew to determine third, second and the new Toa Whakaihuwaka (overall winner of the competition)|
Prize-giving takes place on the final competition day. Across the five days each team are judged against a set criteria, by expert judges, appointed from around New Zealand.
- The Tāonga (Trophies) are awarded to the teams with the highest score in the seven compulsory (Aggregate) and non-compulsory (non-aggregate) disciplines from the pool rounds.
- The Toa Whakaihuwaka (overall winner) taonga is awarded to the team with the highest scores from the final day (Te Matangirua) and also determines first, second and third place. 
The performances are made up of different disciplines, each Kapa Haka team are required to perform six disciplines within their performance piece - whakaeke (a choreographed entry), mōteatea (traditional chant), poi (light ball swung on the end of a rope), waiata-ā-ringa (action song), haka and whakawātea (exit). They must perfect every discipline in a polished 25-minute performance.
|Waiata tira (optional)||The choral is used to warm up the group or is good to put rangimarie (peace) upon the group to settle nerves. This item is optional and not compulsory.|
|Whakaeke(entrance song)||This is where groups can make a statement in which who they are, where they come from, what the purpose is. It involves a lot of movement and choreography around the stage, and involves much discipline.|
|Moteatea||The moteatea is a traditional chant or dirges, however there are more contemporary styles being used in the more present times.|
|Waiata-a-ringa||The action song is where performers are using hand and body actions, much emphasis is placed on the hands, face, body and eyes to combine actions to words of the song. Ngata & Armstrong (2002) state that, “the action song is not a series of drill movements but a rhythmic expression of moods and emotions” (p. 9).|
|Poi||The Poi is an item that is done mostly by women, but can be done by men. This item is known for its gracefulness and poise, utilising a poi (round ball) connected to a plaited cord that exhibits beauty and style.|
|Haka||Tanerore, “the offspring of Te Ra and Hineraumati gave the personification of hot quivering air,who danced in the summer heat, which was known as Te Haka a Tanerore (the haka of Tanerore” (Reed, 2004, p. 399). The Haka is also used to make a statement against political matters, issues in Maori society, and barriers and challenges that Maori face today. It is also known as an expression of New Zealand identity. Karetu (1993) states that “of the Maori dance repertoire it can be said that the haka is the most eagerly anticipated wherever there is a performance” (pg. 80).|
|Whakawatea||The item is the exit song for the group. This gives the group the opportunity to leave a final statement, and reinforce what they came to do, who they are and thank the tangata whenua ‘home people’ for hosting the event.|
|Te Reo||Also known as the Maori language, this discipline is the pinnacle of all disciplines.|
|Manukura Wahine/Manukura Tane or Kaitataki Wahine/Kaitataki Tane||Female and male leaders where both show their roles from on and off the stage. These include; karanga (the calling), mihimihi (speeches), how the leaders present themselves within their groups in terms of leadership and how they carry themselves for the group.|
|Kakahu||This is the dress form, groups are judged on dress style. This item recognises the skills of weavers, moko and tuhi kiri (tattoo) artists, and carvers.|
The Past Winners
|2019||TBA||Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington)|
|2015||Te Whanau a Apanui||Ōtautahi (Christchurch)|
|2013||Te Waka Huia||Te Arawa (Rotorua)|
|2011||Te Mātārae i Ōrehu||Te Tairāwhiti (Gisborne)|
|2009||Te Waka Huia||Tauranga Moana/Mataatua Mt. Maunganui|
|2007||Whangarā Mai Tawhiti||Rangitāne (Palmerston North)|
|2005||Te Whanau-a-Apanui||Rangitāne (Palmerston North)|
|2002||Waihirere||Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland)|
|2000||Te Mātārae i Ōrehu||Tainui (Ngaruawahia)|
|1998||Waihirere||Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Upper Hutt)|
|1996||Ngāti Rangiwewehi||Te Arawa (Rotorua)|
|1994||Te Waka Huia||Hawera (Taranaki)|
|1992||Te Waka Huia||Tainui (Ngaruawahia)|
|1990||Te Roopu Manutaki||Te Tai Tokerau (Waitangi)|
|1988||Waihirere||Te Tai Tokerau (Whangarei)|
|1986||Te Waka Huia||Ōtautahi (Christchurch)|
|1983||Ngāti Rangiwewehi||Heretaunga (Hastings)|
|1981||Taniwharau||Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland)|
|1979||Waihirere||Te Tairāwhiti (Gisborne)|
|1977||Te Kotahitanga o Waitaha||Te Tairāwhiti (Gisborne)|
|1975||Te Roopu Manutaki||Te Tai Tokerau (Whangarei)|
|1973||Mawai Hakona||Te Arawa (Rotorua)|
|1972||Waihirere||Te Arawa (Rotorua)|
Kapa Haka groups from Te Matatini 09
Kapa Haka Disciplines
- Waiata tira (Te Iti Kahurangi).
- Whakaeke (Te Waka Huia).
- Waiata-a-ringa (Te Piringa).
- Poi (Turanga Tane, Turanga Wahine).
- Haka (Te Waka Huia).
- Te Matatini Society, "Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival," Bay of Plenty Times, February, 19-22, 2009, pg. 8.
- Te Matatini Society Incorporated. (2017). Tāonga. Retrieved from Te Matatini Kapa Haka Aotearoa: http://www.tematatini.co.nz/festival/taonga/
- T. Karetu, Haka! The Dance of a Noble People. Auckland, NZ: Reed Books, 1993.
- R. Ngata and A. Armstrong, Maori Action Songs. Auckland, NZ: Reed Books, 2002.
- H. Mead, Tikanga Maori. Living by Maori Values. Wellington, NZ: Huia Publishers, 2003.
- A.W. Reed, Reed Book of Maori Mythology. Auckland, NZ: Reed Books, 2004.