17 Feb 2011
The worlds largest Kapa Haka Festival, Te Matatini o Te Ra started in Gisborne yesterday with a rousing Powhiri for over 1000 people.
The opening ceremony, held at Wai o Hika Estate, Gisborne saw over 1500 people from around New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Hawaii attend for the beginning of the competition starting Thursday.
Maori King Tuheitia and Maori Party Co-Leader, Minister Peter Sharples were among the guests of honour.
In unique East Coast fashion, the opening ceremony started with a 'cowboys' welcome, acknowledging the Maori Battalion C Company nickname.
Charlotte Gibson, one of the organising committee members says the cowboys were a significant touch, "the Maori Battalion is still very relevant for many families in this region. Having young men on horses come out to welcome people was a tribute to these men who served or lost lives for our country."
Te Matatini o Te Ra competition officially starts today 17 February with the final taking place on Sunday 20 February. Tickets can be purchased from the venue.