Te Arawa takes it – Te Matatini 2011

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(Gisbourne Herald | Alice Te Puni) Te Arawa team Te Matarae i Orehu are the new national kapa haka champions.

The team heads home today from the Tairawhiti-hosted Te Matatini o Te Ra national kapa haka competition with the coveted premier award the Duncan MacIntyre trophy, the prestigious best male and female leader titles plus trophies for the best moteatea, poi and haka.

Tokomaru Bays Te Hokowhitu Atu received first place for the whakawatea (exit), Aucklands Te Waka Huia received the waiata a ringa (action song) top prize and Te Pou o Mangataawhiri best whakaeke (entrance).

The premier win was the icing on the cake for the Te Arawa people, who brought five stunning teams to Te Matatini o Te Ra.

We are thrilled with the win. It was worth standing in the rain to hear this great panui, said a Te Arawa kapa haka fan.

Te Matarae i Orehu brought a show-thrilling bracket to the Tairawhiti stage, as did their fellow first-equal regional winners and national finalists Ngati Rangiwewehi.

During the nine-team showdown yesterday, kaitatakiwahine (women leader) Miriama Morrison-Hare clasped her mothers photo summoning an emotionally-charged festival moment as she and others who have passed to the other side were remembered.

Her mother and Te Arawa kapa haka legend Taini Morrison-Hare, who died in 2009, was also a kaitataki wahine award winner.

We took her back to the stage with us to have her and her spirit among the people, said co-tutor and kaitataki tane Wetini Mitai Ngatai.

Mr Ngatai has won best male leader three times now.

The group also paid tribute to another kapa haka legend, Gisbornes Nan Wehi, whose tangihanga was held at Waihirere this month.

Most of the group is made up of Te Arawa hapu Ngati Rongomai and Ngati Pikiao, with a few Tuhoe members.

Te Matatini chairman Selwyn Parata said the event provided great role-modelling opportunities for the younger generations.

It allowed those to see how it can be done, how it should be done and how Tairawhiti can-do attitude can accomplish anything, especially with unity and hard work.

So many people gave, so many volunteers. It was a real Tairawhiti effort from both Maori and Pakeha. We are so grateful for all the support.

It has been a special time. A festival we will cherish for a long time and one we will never forget.

Rotorua will host Te Matatini o te Ra 2013.

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