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Festival newbies impress

Te Rangiura o Wairarapa performed at Te Matatini on Saturday. PHOTOS/MAORI TELEVISION

Hundreds of supporters of Te Rangiura o Wairarapa went to Wellington to watch them perform on the big stage of Te Matatini, the national Maori performing arts festival at Westpac Stadium.

The event was huge with 1800 performers from 46 groups performing over four days in front of 60,000 people.

The Wairarapa group performed for 25 minutes on Saturday and many audience members commented it was a spine-tingling performance that blew them away.

The group didn’t make the final nine who performed again on the final day on Sunday but were scheduled to be given a huge welcome back to the region in Masterton by whanau on Sunday night.

The group got into the national festival after coming second at a regional competition last April and they’ve been training since September.

They were billed as the festival newbies and a new group on the rise.

The Wairarapa group gave a spine-tingling performance.

Many of the members are young and they have come through the Kura Kaupapa movement, to which they attribute their values of te reo Maori, pride in Wairarapa and Te Aho Matua – the framework for Kura.

There was chat on social media about poor publicity for the performance given its significance of putting Wairarapa on the map in the Maori performance world.

But there were plenty in the know. PJ Devonshire posted: “There’s going to be a few hundred local Wairarapa Maori heading to Wellington to our Wairarapa whanau Rangiura performing on the Te Matatini National Stage and a few thousand Pakeha heading to Wairarapa to watch white people not from Wairarapa fly around in expensive planes.”

Kapa haka performer Ririwai Fox said the group competed under Ngati Kahungunu but both Wairarapa iwi, would be represented.

Irihapeti Roberts said hundreds of people from Wairarapa came to watch and the group was really pleased with the performance.

The group performed six items, including an entry, poi, motetea, action song, haka and exit piece. The stories were of Wairarapa Maori.

The group comprises Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane descendants from all over the country, with members coming from as far away as Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua, Auckland and even Brisbane.

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