Te Matatini is marking 50 years of performances this year, but to many, the national kapa haka festival is more than an annual event - it's a celebration of te ao Māori, and has played a significant part in the revitalisation of te reo Māori.
To commemorate the anniversary, an album, a web series and a book are being released for the TM50 project.
Annette Wehi, Te Matatini board member, appeared on Breakfast on Thursday alongside one of the project's māngai Pere Wihongi to celebrate the release.
Wehi, whose whānau has been performing at the festival as part of Te Waka Huia kapa haka group for years, said it was a way for te iwi Māori to learn whakapapa and share their history.
“For 50 years we’ve been telling our stories through haka,” said Wehi.
“If you want to know what's going on in te ao Māori, haere mai ki Te Matatini (come to Te Matatini), and over those four days you’ll get a snapshot of everything that is dear and important to us.”
She said it’s also been a significant kaupapa for the revitalisation of te reo Māori.
“Look at the journey of te reo, and Te Matatini has been a big part of that as well.
“Te Matatini’s been really influential in the revitalisation of te reo Māori and the way that we connect with people, but it is part of Aotearoa’s heritage.”
Pere Wihongi was also joined by Awatea Wihongi, Mereana Teka, and John Kingi on guitar to perform one of the waiata featuring on the TM50 album.
The waiata, Te Ata Māhina, was composed by Wihongi.
One track from the TM50 album is being released per weekday for 50 days, with tracks going live across Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube on each release day.
Te Matatini is being held in 2023 at Auckland’s Ngā Ana Wai/Eden Park from February 21 until Te Matangirua (finals day) on Saturday, February 25.
The festival had been postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.