Maurise Flower

Written by Maurise Flower

Modified & Updated: 18 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Te Matatini is a renowned M?ori performing arts festival that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the M?ori people. With its roots deeply embedded in the traditional customs and rituals of the indigenous M?ori community of New Zealand, the festival has become a showcase of talent, skill, and artistry.

Every two years, haka groups, kapa haka (performing arts) teams, and M?ori cultural enthusiasts gather to participate and witness this grand event. Te Matatini offers a platform for performers to demonstrate their mastery of various art forms, including poi dances, waiata (songs), and haka (war dances).

Aside from being a vibrant celebration of M?ori culture, Te Matatini also represents a unique opportunity for people from different backgrounds to come together, learn from one another, and embrace the power of unity through the universal language of art.

Key Takeaways:

  • Te Matatini is a vibrant celebration of Māori performing arts, showcasing traditional song and dance. It fosters cultural pride and identity while promoting diversity and camaraderie among performers.
  • The festival, running since 1972, attracts thousands of performers and spectators, contributing to the revitalization of Māori language and culture. It’s a platform for young talents and has a significant impact on the Māori community.
Table of Contents

Te Matatini is the largest celebration of M?ori performing arts.

Te Matatini is a biennial event that brings together the best kapa haka groups from across New Zealand to showcase their talent in traditional M?ori song and dance.

  • It has been running since 1972.

  • Te Matatini has a long and rich history, with the first festival taking place nearly five decades ago. Since then, it has become a significant cultural event for both M?ori and non-M?ori communities.

  • The festival attracts thousands of performers and spectators.

  • Each edition of Te Matatini sees an impressive gathering of kapa haka groups, consisting of passionate performers who dedicate countless hours to perfect their routines. The festival also draws large crowds, including locals and international visitors eager to witness the cultural extravaganza.

  • Te Matatini promotes the revitalization of M?ori language and culture.

  • With its emphasis on traditional M?ori arts, Te Matatini plays a crucial role in preserving and promoting the M?ori language, as well as fostering cultural pride and identity among M?ori communities.

  • The festival showcases a wide range of traditional M?ori arts and performances.

  • From powerful haka performances to graceful poi dances and mesmerizing waiata (songs), Te Matatini offers a diverse range of cultural expressions that highlight the depth and beauty of M?ori traditions.

  • Kapa haka groups compete for the prestigious title of Te Matatini champion.

  • During the festival, kapa haka groups compete in various categories, including poi, haka, waiata-?-ringa (action songs), and whakaeke (entrance performances). The stakes are high as groups vie for the coveted title of Te Matatini champion.

  • It fosters friendly competition and camaraderie among participants.

  • While the competition is fierce, Te Matatini also creates an environment of camaraderie and mutual respect among the performers. It is an opportunity for them to connect, learn from each other, and celebrate their shared passion for M?ori performing arts.

  • Te Matatini is not only about competitions.

  • In addition to the intense competition, the festival also features showcases, workshops, and exhibitions, allowing participants and spectators to immerse themselves in M?ori culture and learn more about the various art forms.

  • It is a platform for young M?ori performers to shine.

  • Te Matatini provides an invaluable opportunity for young M?ori performers to showcase their talent, gain experience, and carry forward the legacy of M?ori performing arts to future generations.

  • The festival contributes to the tourism industry.

  • Te Matatini attracts a significant number of domestic and international tourists, boosting the local economy and highlighting the importance of M?ori culture in New Zealand’s tourism sector.

  • Te Matatini has its own set of judging criteria.

  • To ensure fairness and consistency, Te Matatini has a specific set of judging criteria that evaluate various aspects of each performance, including language proficiency, choreography, costumes, and overall presentation.

  • The festival has embraced modern technology.

  • While rooted in tradition, Te Matatini has also embraced modern technology to enhance the overall experience. This includes the use of multimedia displays, live streaming of performances, and the incorporation of digital elements into the stage design.

  • It is a celebration of diversity.

  • Te Matatini welcomes performers from different regions, iwi (tribes), and cultural backgrounds, showcasing the diversity within M?ori performing arts and fostering cross-cultural understanding.

  • Te Matatini promotes health and wellbeing.

  • The festival encourages a healthy lifestyle among participants, with many performers prioritizing physical fitness and mental wellbeing to ensure they are in peak condition for their performances.

  • It has a significant impact on the M?ori community.

  • Te Matatini holds deep cultural importance for M?ori communities, contributing to their sense of identity, pride, and connection to their heritage. The festival serves as a platform to celebrate and share M?ori culture with the wider community.

    Te Matatini is a remarkable festival that showcases the vibrancy and richness of M?ori performing arts. It brings together talented performers, passionate audiences, and a deep appreciation for M?ori language and culture. The festival’s legacy spans over four decades, and each edition continues to captivate and inspire all who have the privilege of attending or participating. Whether it is the powerful haka, the melodious waiata, or the intricate poi dances, Te Matatini is a celebration of tradition, creativity, and the enduring spirit of M?ori performing arts.


    In conclusion, Te Matatini is not just a M?ori performing arts festival; it is a celebration of cultural heritage, talent, and unity. This biennial event brings together performers, spectators, and enthusiasts from around Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the world, showcasing the richness and beauty of M?ori performing arts.With its exciting competitions, mesmerizing performances, and vibrant atmosphere, Te Matatini offers a unique and unforgettable experience for everyone involved. From the powerful haka and graceful poi dances to the harmonious waiata and intricate traditional costumes, this festival highlights the artistic prowess and spiritual significance of M?ori culture.Through its emphasis on education, preservation, and innovation, Te Matatini plays a crucial role in promoting and revitalizing M?ori performing arts. It provides a platform for talented performers to showcase their skills while fostering cultural pride and identity amongst participants and spectators alike.Attending Te Matatini allows individuals to immerse themselves in the beauty of M?ori arts and culture, gaining a deeper appreciation for the significance and meaning behind each performance. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of the M?ori people and their commitment to preserving their ancient traditions in the modern world.


    1. What is Te Matatini?

    Te Matatini is a biennial M?ori performing arts festival that showcases various traditional performing arts, including haka, waiata, poi, and traditional costumes.

    2. When and where does Te Matatini take place?

    The festival takes place every two years and is held at different locations throughout Aotearoa (New Zealand).

    3. Who can participate in Te Matatini?

    Only registered kapa haka groups can participate in the competition, but the festival is open for all to attend and enjoy.

    4. How many performers are in a kapa haka group?

    Each kapa haka group can have varying numbers of performers, but on average, a group consists of around 40 to 80 members.

    5. How long does Te Matatini last?

    The festival spans over several days, with each day featuring different stages and events. The overall duration can range from four to six days.

    6. Are there any age restrictions for attending Te Matatini?

    No, Te Matatini is a family-friendly festival, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend and experience the cultural festivities.

    7. Can I buy tickets for Te Matatini?

    Yes, tickets are available for purchase to attend the festival. It is recommended to book in advance as they can sell out quickly.

    8. Are there food and beverage options available at the festival?

    Yes, Te Matatini typically provides a variety of food stalls and vendors offering a range of M?ori and international cuisines.

    9. Can I take photographs or record videos during the performances?

    Photography and videography are generally permitted for personal use. However, restrictions may apply during specific performances, so it is important to check the guidelines when attending.

    10. Is there parking available at Te Matatini?

    Most Te Matatini venues have designated parking areas, but it is advisable to arrive early or consider carpooling due to the potentially high attendance.

    Dive deeper into the rich tapestry of indigenous cultures and celebrations! Uncover fascinating insights about Māori culture, from their ancient traditions to modern-day achievements. Explore vibrant cultural festivals that bring communities together in a joyous display of heritage and unity. Discover the captivating world of indigenous arts, where skilled artisans showcase their creativity and keep ancient techniques alive. Whether you're a history buff, art enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, these articles promise an enlightening journey through the diverse and beautiful world of indigenous peoples.

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