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by Greta Yeoman

More than 20 schools are to compete in the Flava kapa haka festival tomorrow.

The festival, which is in its 11th year, will return to Timaru’s Theatre Royal for a day of kapa haka and other Maori cultural performances.

There are 23 schools – some with multiple teams – registered to perform.

Events will begin with a mihi whakatau at 8.30am, before the first performances of the day start at 9am.

The event is now run by the Ka Toi Maori o Aoraki society, with support from Arowhenua Whanau Services and various individuals.

Society chairman Irai Weepu said all those involved continued to support the event’s kaupapa of celebrating Te Ao Maori.

“It’s fantastic that Flava has continued .. encouraging tamariki to share their kapa haka skills and knowledge with our community.”

Flava was first held in South Canterbury in 2007, as an initiative out of the former Maori youth suicide prevention strategy. Young residents had identified an interest in developing a local schools competition to promote pride in their identity, to showcase their talents and to express their creativity, which was how Flava began, Mr Weepu said.

“It’s a day well worth coming along to.”

The event is open to all primary and secondary schools, as well as tertiary education providers within the Arowhenua area – between the Waitaki and Rakaia rivers, out to the Southern Alps.

Performances will run until 4.30pm, starting with primary schools, followed by secondary school groups in the afternoon.

The prize-giving will be held at the theatre from 5.15pm.