November 29, 2023

Te Matatini: Live translations in six languages available for final day of performances on Saturday

Related video: For two kapa haka groups from Hawke's Bay just getting to the 2023 national kapa haka festival in Auckland has been a huge challenge.

Ua (rain) has arrived at Ngā Ana Wai/Eden Park on Friday afternoon, but it’s not dampening spirits on the third day of Te Matatini, the world’s largest kapa haka festival.

And this year’s competition is more accessible than ever to non-Māori speaking audiences.

Live translations in six languages will be available on Saturday for finals day – including Mandarin, Sāmoan, Tongan, Fijian, Cook Islands Māori, and English.

David Jones is one of the festival’s MCs, and also a translator for Haka Translate, and he said haka is an important vehicle for promoting ahurea Māori (Māori culture).

“It’s about accessibility of kapa haka to the world, and letting those who may not understand our language – te reo Māori – to have access to the stories, and the richness of our culture, through haka,” Jones told Newshub.

All rōpū (groups) provide Haka Translate with a copy of their lyrics in Te Reo, but only a few give interpretations in English.

“We are only hearing this for the first time as everyone else is. We’re interpreting in-time, at-pace, and we’re hoping that we’re as accurate as possible,” said Jones.

Multi-talented Te Rita Papesch is a lecturer, kapa haka exponent, and this will be her fourth Te Matatini as a translator.

Papesch said only Mandarin and English were offered for 2019’s event, but translation services have expanded to match the recent explosion in the popularity of haka.

“I think it’s definitely growing – [it] never happened when I was a child, even as a teenager. So it’s definitely a way to access Te Ao Māori – through haka,” Papesch told Newshub.

Te reo Māori “wasn’t a thing for Māori to learn, let alone non-Māori,” she said, so she’s excited to see non-Māori participating.

There are “cities around the country that hold haka festivals specifically for groups that are full of non-Māori kids,” said Papesch.

Haka Translate started in 2007, as Hakarongo Mai, and has done Te Matatini interpretations since.

Translations will be available for a short time after Te Matatini ends tomorrow.

You can access the live translations here as each rōpū take to the stage āpōpō (tomorrow).


Ua – rain

Ahurea Māori – Māori culture

Ngā Ana Wai – Eden Park

Rōpū – group

Kapa – group, or people lined up in a row

Āpōpō – tomorrow

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