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Song of celebration sets the stage for Te Matatini 2019

Artists and performers have come together to create a song to promote Māori performing arts in preparation for the world’s largest kapa haka festival.

RNZ story by Te Manu Korihi reporter Eden More

Photo: RNZ/ Eden More

Ten people from performers, tutors or composers of kapa haka, or with a background in the Māori performing art, have banded together to create a recording for next year’s Te Matatini festival at Westpac Stadium.

Renowned Māori artist Rob Ruha, who will return to the Te Matatini stage in 2019 for the first time in five years, said the song, ‘Te Matatini ki te Ao’, is really what the festival is all about.

“It’s about bringing people together, celebrating culture and history and positioning it in the future.”

Pere Wihongi of Maimoa helped arrange the tune for the song and said the calibre of the voices involved in this project has been overwhelming.

Te Matatini star Ginny Maxwell, one of the main soloists for Waka Huia, has been joined by members of Tomorrow People and 1814, as well as up-and-comers like Jaedyn Randell, who Wihongi describes as “the Māori Moana”.

Jaedyn Randell is a leader of the kapa haka group Te Maurea Whiritoi and aspires to eventually perform at Te Matatini.

“My goal is to stand with Te Iti Kahurangi one day and I hope it’s something I can achieve in the near future.

“It’s just an amazing event that gives the opportunity to showcase our culture and people from all around the world can come and appreciate that with us.”

Next year’s event will be held in Wellington from 20 to 24 February at Westpac Stadium, with 46 groups from 13 regions in New Zealand and Australia taking to the stage to try and claim the number one spot.

However, the words in the song play down the competitive aspect of the event to celebrate the culture, Pere Wihongi said.

“It’s not so much acknowledging the competition but what the competition has created: whakawhanungatanga, aroha, relationships.”

‘Te Matatini ki te Ao’ will be released later this month.