The sound of kapa haka was alive and strong in Nelson as schools from the top of the south performed at Nelson College on Saturday.
About 300 people filled the auditorium at Nelson College to watch the Te Huinga Whetu Regional Junior and Intermediate Kapa Haka Festival which featured performances from Victory Primary School, Nelson College for Girls, Te Whatukura, Kopuawai Te Kohanga Reo, Nelson Intermediate School, Nelson Central School and Blenheim's Te Kura Hoa Bohally Intermediate School.
The junior winner was Te Pitau Whakarei from Nelson Intermediate, and the intermediate winner was Te Waiaro O Pikimai from Nelson College for Girls.
Organiser and judge Dayveen Stephens said the calibre had really picked up this year, especially with the experience some groups had gained from competing in national competitions.
Kapa haka was the theme of the day, and for some, it was just about giving it a go, she said.
The performances featured both contemporary and traditional music and movement, with plenty of spine-tingling haka, intricate poi work, and soulful choruses.
"The seniors are a bit more traditional but the young ones add a bit of young, contemporary flavour which is great.
"The main thing is to preserve our Maori culture, through the vehicle of kapa haka, that's what this is all about – what Maori people are, what their origins are. Having these competitions is one of the ways to keep that alive."
Nelson Central School teacher Carly Ave has been one of four teachers coaching more than 60 kids from year 0 to 6 for the past 15 weeks.
"For a lot of them, it's their first time so it's about having fun at this stage, and we might consider going competitive next year.
"They have absolutely loved it. It's been hard work but we get lots of good comments from parents that they hear their children singing all day long ... singing while they're doing the dishes, in the shower ... it's great."
- © Fairfax NZ News