National kapa haka festival Te Matatini underway after four-year hiatus

After a four-year hiatus due to COVID-19 interruptions, the highly anticipated national kapa haka festival Te Matatini is finally underway at Auckland's Eden Park.

Spectators travelled from around the world to get a glimpse of their group to compete for the title as well as experience what's on offer. 

From a drum beat to footwork, to singing in tune while twirling a poi, the first lot of kapa haka groups took the stage singing their hearts out and fiercely showing off their haka.

When Newshub asked, 'How's it been to see kapa haka finally', one person said: "It's so good. It's so good for the heart [and] so good for the wairua."

"Te whakakotahi te marea, kia whakanuia te kaupapa kotahi," another said. "It unites us and we can finally celebrate together."

A third said: "You know, we look forward to this event every couple of years. We've been waiting for a while."

And for die-hard fans wanting to watch their group, it meant true commitment.

"I woke up at 3:30am to travel all the way from Tauranga Moana. I could feel it in my bones and I was so happy," one person told Newshub.

The commitment to showcase the Māori culture was a trip down memory lane for Te Waka Huia tutor Tāpeta Wehi.

Wehi performed when Auckland last hosted the event 21 years ago where he continued the legacy of his parents who founded the group in the 1980s.

His family are now third-generation performers.

"For me, as a tutor is bringing in our next generation in. The kids that are performing with us now are mokopuna or children of people that I've performed with, so that's been the highlight for me," Te Waka Huia tutor Tāpeta Wehi told Newshub.

The biggest event in the Māori calendar has live English translations available for people watching from home in New Zealand and Australia.

The people on site will be able to get a sample of the best Māori kai and businesses.

Around 60,000 people are expected to attend the kapa haka festival at Ngā Ana Wai, Eden Park, over the four days.

A chance to experience kapa haka and Māori culture like never before.

 National kapa haka festival Te Matatini underway after four-year hiatus