JAYSIN Walker shows off her poi skills. Photos Troy Baker D8677-207

OPOTIKI College’s Kura ki Uta is off to nationals after taking fourth place at the 2019 Mataatua Kapa Haka, held in Whakatane.

Ten groups representing secondary schools from around the Bay of Plenty contested the kapa haka, held at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall.

Te Wharekura o Ruatoki won with Te Reo Whakakoko o Mauao from Te Wharekura o Mauao, second, and the combined Tauranga boys and girls college team Te Tauranga o Nga Waka in third.

Traditionally, only the top three teams are selected to attend the national competition the following year, but a special request from the competition committee means Opotiki will also be attending.

“It was a fantastic day, we’re really happy with it,” said tutor Te Hira Paenga.

“We’re so lucky and grateful to be able to go to nationals.”

The competition will take place in July next year, and Mr Paenga said preparations would officially begin for the team around October.

The school also took first in the te reo category, which is split into spoken and written, and is the only mainstream school to have done so.

“It’s sort of a testimony to the depth and breadth of our understanding of the Maori language,” he said.

“We’re very pleased with the team we had.”

However, Mr Paenga took a moment to recognise those behind the scenes as well, extending a special thanks to Jimmy Williams.

“I would like to make a special note of our whanau and supporters, all of the helping hands behind the scenes that can be forgotten or not mentioned,” he said.

“It’s a huge thank you to everyone.”

Te Kura o Te Whanau a Apanui also competed on the day, but was unable to be reached for comment.