Plenty of sweat and a healthy pair of lungs could give kapa haka teams getting ready for the regionals a winning edge.
Senior teams from across Auckland will battle on stage next month for spots in the 2015 Te Matatini nationals in Christchurch.
Te Matatini regional delegate Annette Wehi helps to run Auckland-based teams Te Manu Huia and Te Waka Huia o Mua as well as defending national titleholders Te Waka Huia.
Ms Wehi says several hauora or health initiatives help the performers.
The three groups held a weekend workshop at Manukau Institute of Technology last week in preparation for the competition.
It included an 8km walk or run around Otara before their practice at MIT's Nga Kete Wananga Marae.
Senior Te Waka Huia member Hari Rua says the shift in focus towards health over the years has been huge and group members now take part in activities such as Iron Maori triathlons, walkathons, cross-fit gym and individual training regimes to boost their fitness.
"Physically when you get your haka on you're still going to feel the pain but you can recover quickly for the next items."
Wero (challenge) coach Kristina Paraha also runs auahi kore, a quit smoking programme, to help performers tackle the habit.
It involves groups of 10 people trying to quit smoking over a 12-week period with a $5000 reward for the winning group.
"We just had a two-week buildup to prepare everyone to become auahi kore and what we do is give them all the information and support we can provide for them."
The programme will help to clear the smokers' lungs and make the group's renowned harmonies even sweeter, she says.
"After you finish a hard run all you can hear is the smokers coughing up a storm and you hear the phlegmy bits in their throat and it breaks down the voice which is not good at all."
The regional competition kicks off on April 5 at the Aotea Centre in central Auckland.
- John Boynton is an AUT journalism student
- Manukau Courier
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