THE many descendants of Apanui stood head high on Friday afternoon after witnessing Te Whanau a Apanui win accolades for their spine tingling war dance and award winning performances at Te Mataatua Kapa Haka regionals.
With only five spots at Te Matatini 2021, teams brought the crème da la crème of kapa haka to the podium to outperform and outshine their rivals.
With top honours and taking first place in whakaeke, poi, waita-a-ringa, haka, whakawatea, te reo and equal first place for their moteatea, Te Whanau a Apanui roopu moved the judges and audience.
Thousands attended the biggest Bay of Plenty Maori cultural festival and jammed inside Ohui Domain in Opotiki to watch 18 teams from the confederation of Mataatua tribes compete in Te Moana a Toi section on Waitangi Day and Mataatua section on Friday where the overall winners were the last to take the stage.
Tutor and first equal for the kaitataki tane (male leader) section Tamati Waaka remains humble after their stellar performances and honours the roopu composer, Rikirangi Gage, the pillar behind the group’s success.
The bracket which won the group third overall at Te Matatini in 2019 also earned them first place at the regionals, with one exception.
“The final song we sang speaks to the importance of Waitangi Day and the Treaty negotiations,” he said.
“We paid homage to Monita Eru Delamare of Te Whanau a Apanui who was one of the first men to be appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal with great humility in 1986.
Mr Waaka said the team also paid tribute to hosting iwi Te Whakatohea and the other Mataatua tribes who competed.
The group’s youngest members performed alongside their mentors and whanau at the regionals in preparation for the big stage where teams from across Aotearoa will vie for top respects and the national kapa haka title.
Mr Waaka said the team spent seven weeks practising at different marae in and around Omaio. “It was one of our shortest campaigns, but we really focused on honing our bracket from the nationals stage in 2019.
“The regionals are the best learning ground for rangatahi and it really gives them a taste of what it’s like to perform on the national stage. To win with only seven practices and to compete against the calibre of teams, it was a real surprise,” he said.
After the competition the team celebrated with a swim at the Opotiki College swimming pool.
“The instructions from our pou was, should you lose, congratulate the winners, and if you win, be humble, Mr Waaka said
“We celebrated with a dip at the pools surrounded by whanau and friends.
Mr Waaka thanked Te whakatohea for the manaaki they showed everyone. He said the festival would not be possible without Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Te Matawai, Te Puna Mataatua. and the 200 volunteers who give their time freely to help make it a success.
“Without their support, we are in a paddock performing on dirt with no stage, so a big mihi to everyone,” he said.
Judge of the te reo section, Pouroto Ngaropo said Te Whanau a Apanui were excellent, top class and shone brighter than ever before.
“The singing was beautiful, like the sound of the bellbird in the forest,” he said.
Overall placings: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 3, Ohinemataroa ki Ruatahuna; 4, Tauira Mai Tawhiti and 5, Tutara Kauika ki Rangataua.
Whakaeke: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 3, Ohinemataroa ki Ruatahuna.
Moteatea: 1 equal, Te Whanau a Apanui me Ohinemataroa ki Ruatahuna; 2 equal, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti me Tutara Kauika ki Rangataua; 3, Te Paringa Taiki Matakana me Rangiwaea.
Poi: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 3, Tauira Mai Tawhiti.
Waiata a ringa: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 3, Tauira May Tawhiti.
Haka: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti me Tutara Kauika ki Rangataua; 3, Waioweka me Ohinemataroa ki Ruatahuna.
Whakawatea: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Ohinemataroa ki Ruatahuna; 3, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti.
Te Reo: 1, Te Whanau a Apanui; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 3, Ohinemataroa ki Ruatahuna.
Kaitataki Wahine: 1, Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 2, Waioweka; 3, Tauira Mai Tawhiti me Te Whanau a Apanui.
Kaitataki Tane: 1equal, Te Whanau a Apanui me Opotiki Mai Tawhiti; 2, Ohinemataroa ki Ruataahuna; 3, Waioweka.
Waiata Tira: 1, Ohinemataroa ki Ruataahuna; 2, Opotiki Mai Tawiti; 3, Tutarakauika ki Rangataua.
Kakahu: 1, Tutarakauika ki Rangataua; 2, Te Whanau a Apanui; 3, Te Paringa tai ki Matakana me Rangiwaea.
Overall, non-competitive / Whakangahau: 1, Nga Toki o Rua; 2, Ruatahuna Kakahu Mauku; 3, Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.