The Polynesian Cultural Center will showcase kapa haka — the traditional music and dance of Aotearoa (New Zealand) — with the Te Manahua Maori Cultural Arts Festival on Saturday, Aug. 31. Participants from across the state and as far as New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Utah will participate.
“Te Manahua is a fun and entertaining event for both participants and spectators, especially the Haka Hard! competition,” said Seamus Fitzgerald, Aotearoa village manager. “We’re also excited to be able to live stream this year’s event on our Polynesia.com website to allow fans from around the world to enjoy the performances.”
The festivities will feature the crowd pleasing Haka Hard! and Poi-e competitions in the Pacific Theater. Beginning with the Haka Hard!, groups will present their unique renditions of the Maori haka, an adrenaline-pumping dance meant to record histories that was traditionally performed by war-parties in training and prior to battle. While postures and movements are typically firm and powerful, past groups have also been known to offer more light-hearted and slightly humorous dances.
In the Poi-e portion of the event, small groups twirl poi (a ball on the end of a string) in rhythm with a chant or song creating visually appealing patterns and movements.
A panel of expert judges from New Zealand will evaluate the competing groups on several criteria including execution, motions, stage personality, creativity, and choreography. The group with the highest combined score in each competition will be deemed the overall winner.
Rounding out the event is the Maori Performing Arts Festival. Guests will be treated to special exhibition performances throughout the day, featuring groups from all over the world including Nga Uri o te Whanoa, a national qualifying competition team from Aotearoa.
Nga Uri o te Whanoa has become a prominent contender in the Te Matatini National Competition, New Zealand’s version of Merrie Monarch competition for kapa haka held every two years. The group’s powerful voices and dynamic choreography featuring a mixture of contemporary with traditional Maori performing arts have helped them place in the top five in the Te Arawa Kapa Haka Regional Competition in 2008, 2010, and 2012, qualifying them for a spot in the national competition held the following years. They placed in the top three in five categories in the 2013 national competition earlier this year.
Admission to the event is $10 for age 12 or older, or $6 for children ages 5-11. Free for Kamaaina Annual Pass holders, full-day ticket holders and keiki age 4 or younger.
[Photos depict the 2012 Te Manahua festival]