Wairoa kapa haka group pays emotional tribute to Hawke's Bay following Cyclone Gabrielle devastation

Publish Date
Friday, 24 February 2023, 4:58PM

When kapa haka group Mātangirau, from Wairoa, took to the stage at Eden Park with their legs smeared in mud, the crowd knew they were about to witness something extra special.

The group then performed a powerful tribute to their hometown following the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle at Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata Festival 2023.

A week before arriving in Auckland for the biggest kapa haka festival in the Māori calendar, Mātangirau were unsure whether they could even get to the stage.

But take to the stage they did - even bringing their own mud with them - and from the second they walked onto Eden Park yesterday for day two of Te Matatini, all eyes were glued to them.

Click here to view their performance.

NZ Herald kapa haka expert Hania Douglas said just seeing Mātangirau take to the stage was "beautiful."

"Our Kahungungu teams today with their painted legs in mud to signify the struggles their whānau are going through in the Hawke's Bay rohe was awesome," Douglas said.

"You could tell that while they were physically in Tamaki Makaurau for Te Matatini, their hearts are elsewhere with their whānau."

She continued: "They painted their legs in mud to symbolise how their homes are looking at the moment. There are many marae covered in knee-deep mud and they painted their legs to signify the struggles the iwi is coping with. I thought that was a beautifully symbolic way to say we are here but their thoughts are at home."

We're sure their families would be very proud. 

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