Te Matatini


Te Matatini is a nation-wide Māori performing arts festival and competition for kapa haka performers from all of New Zealand. 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.

Te Matatini in 2015 in Hagley Park, Christchurch

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 Ngāti Kahungunu (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.[1]

The 2021 Te Matatini will be held in Eden Park.[2] [needs update]

Schedule of eventsEdit

Day Events 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)


Prizes are awarded on the final competition day. Across the five days, each team are judged against 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.[3]


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.

Discipline Explanation
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.

Past winnersEdit

Year Roopu (Group) Location
2019 Ngā Tūmanako Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington)
2017 Whāngārā-mai-Tawhiti Heretaunga (Hastings)
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 (Ngāruawāhia)
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 (Ngāruawāhia)
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 Waitaha (Christchurch)
1975 Te Roopu Manutaki Te Tai Tokerau (Whangarei)
1973 Mawai Hakona Te Arawa (Rotorua)
1972 Waihirere Te Tairawhiti (Gisborne)


  1. ^ Te Matatini Society, "Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival," Bay of Plenty Times, February 19–22, 2009, pg. 8.
  2. ^ Campbell, Georgina; Tapaleao, Vaimoana (24 February 2019). "Eden Park to host Te Matatini 2021". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  3. ^ Te Matatini Society Incorporated. (2017). Tāonga. Retrieved from Te Matatini Kapa Haka Aotearoa: http://www.tematatini.co.nz/festival/taonga/

Further readingEdit

  • 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.

External linksEdit

  • Te Matatini official website.
  • Te Matatini Society, History and Initiatives. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  • Te Matatini Society, Nga ture o te whakataetae: Competition rules. Retrieved from 25 March 2010.
  • Kapa Haka Secondary Schools 2010.