Supported by the Palmerston North City Council’s Arts Event Fund, the regional senior kapa haka competition is a qualifier for the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competition and will draw in participants and spectators from the city and lower North Island.
Event organiser Chris Whaiapu says Tangata Rau means "The Multitude". It promotes the status of Rangitāne kapa haka in Palmerston North as a world-class regional competition, showcasing Māori performance excellence through the dynamic, competitive kapa haka the Manawatū and wider region has to offer.
Local iwi Rangitāne will manaaki visitors to the festival and the city. Rangitāne envisage a festival that exemplifies the cultural richness and vibrancy of local Māori in Palmerston North – “the phenomena of its mystical and spiritual first peoples, that make up the geography and natural elements of the area; rich in its history, and kōrero, of an ancient culture, preserving its beauty, and living and thriving with it, in a modern-day world,” Whaiapu says.
The Arts Event Fund has helped organisers access judges who are expert in all aspects of Māori culture. “From composers to both ex and current performers, they are exponents at the top of their fields. The fund has helped us to raise the bar and change the game because of it,” Whaiapu says.
Kapa haka groups have had to earn their spot at the regional competition – vying for the title of Te Toa Ihu Waka – the overall regional winner.
“These campaigns are no easy feat. They are gruelling, they are long, and they are tough – only the very fittest among us last the four-to-six-month preparation time required to compete at this level,” Whaiapu says.
“In this arena, kapa haka is ‘the be all, and end all’ of everything.”
The Arts Event Fund supports national and regional arts events hosted in Palmerston North. Applications are open in a contestable process throughout the year, until all funds have been allocated.