Intricate costumes, elaborate face and body tattoos, and traditional Maori tribal dances: Inside New Zealand’s biennial National Kapa Haka Festival

Colourful costumes, face tattoos and impressive dance moves… these are just a few of the things spectators will see during the elaborate performances of the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival.The biennial event, which celebrates traditional Maori performing arts, is currently taking place at Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand.This year, 45 teams from New Zealand and Australia are showcasing their talents and competing for the title of national kapa haka champion.

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Every two years, thousands of traditional Maori performers come together to showcase their talents at the National Kapa Haka Festival

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This year, the four-day competition is being held in Hagley Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, and will see 45 teams compete for top prize

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Members of the Te Kapa Haka o Ngati Ranginui from Tauranga (pictured) are just one of many teams to perform this year

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From Manawatu, members of the Te Tu Mataora team are clad in striking turquoise blue and purple costumes

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Each team will compete in one of three pools, with the three top finalists from each being moved onto the semi-finals

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Members of Tu Te Maungaroa from Wellington showcase elaborate face and body tattoos on their arms, legs and cheeks

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A man from the Te Tu Mataora team (left) and a man from Te Kapa Haka o Ngti Ranginui (right) dance accompanied by traditional props

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An integral part of each performance is the poi demonstration, as seen here by the Te Kapa Haka o Te Whanau-a- Apanui from Opotiki

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The performance of the team’s male and female leaders are also judged by particular criteria. Pictured: male Te Tu Mataora members jumping

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Of the nine teams that make it to the finals, judges will then determine a new Toa Whakaihuwaka, the overall aggregate winner

The festival begins with a powhiri, where performers, guests and visitors are welcome by the local hosts.
Beginning on March 5, the competition pools began their initial rounds of performances.
Kapa haka teams must perform six disciplines within their piece: whakaeke (a choreographed entry), moteatea (a traditional chant), poi (a demonstration of a light ball swung on the end of a rope), waiata-a-ringa (an action song), haka and whakawatea (exit).
During each team’s 30 minute performance, each discipline must be delivered in a perfect, polished manner.

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Kapa haka teams must perform six disciplines during their piece, including a choreographed entry, a traditional chant and an action song

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Each performance is 30 minutes in length and judges expect each team’s delivery to be perfectly polished

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For spectators who don’t speak the local tongue, real-time English translations are available as each team takes to the stage

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Several female members of Te Kapa Haka o Ngati Ranginui from Tauranga show off facial expressions as noteworthy as their movements

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A male member of Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao from Rotoura boasts exceptionally intricate facial tattoos during a performance

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The festival, which is now in its 22nd year, first began in 1972 and attracts performers and viewers from all around New Zealand and Australia

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Another important part of the traditional Maori war dance is poi: a demonstration of a light ball swung on the end of a rope

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As well as performances, spectators can also sample traditional Maori delicacies, shop for arts and crafts and take in cultural exhibitions