by Helen Holt

Te Aitarakihi will strut their stuff at the Waitaha Matatu kapa haka festival this Saturday in Christchurch.

The 50-strong kapa haka group will perform at the festival along with 12 other kapa haka groups from the South Island.

It will be the first time Te Aitarakihi has attended the festival since 2017.

Te Aitarakihi community connecter Brenda Warren said the group had been working on the performance for seven weeks.

“We have been practising a few times a week.

“The dress rehearsal was the first time some of them had performed in front of people; the second and third rows are almost completely new,” she said.

“This is a unique event for us.

“We have a combination of seasoned performers and new performers who have never been on stage before, with our tamariki as well.”

The group had all ages, and the youngest performer was 6-year-old Leilani Tealei.

The performers had a dress rehearsal last weekend at Mountainview High School, which was attended by members of the community.

Ani Haua said she was heartened by the support.

“We didn’t expect so many spectators.

“We laid out a few chairs, and then when I saw from the stage there were people standing, I thought, ‘oh no, we didn’t put out enough chairs’.”

The Waitaha Matatu festival will have both entertainment and competitive kapa haka performances.

Whaea Haua said the group was performing just to entertain and “strut their stuff”.