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Poi poised for NZ's premier kapa haka competition, as thousands descend on Wellington

The poi are poised, taiaha polished and guitars tuned as New Zealand's premier kapa haka competition gets set to roar into action in Wellington tomorrow.

Today, local tribes welcomed the country's best cultural performers and their supporters, tens of thousands descending on the capital.

Wave after wave of warriors were there to welcome the country's best kapa haka performers.

Māori King Tuheitia was not challenged, but honoured.

"It's a privilege for us to have him come down here as patron for Te Matatini Ki Te Ao," one warrior said.

Unity was on display as local iwi Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa put on a show that'll be long remembered.

"This is the first time in a very, very long time where the three iwi particularly have come together in Wellington to do something like that," Kura Moeahu of Te Āti Awa.

Derek Lardell, Whāngārā Mai Tawhiti defending champion, said: "Simply amazing. It shows the best of Māoridom, it shows the ihi, wehi, the tapu the actual awesomeness of what our people are all about."

Te Matatini Ki Te Ao 2019  - aka the Maori Olympics - kicks off tomorrow at Wellington's Westpac Stadium. Eighteen-hundred performers in 46 groups from Aotearoa and Australia will hit the stage for three days, performing to an audience of 55,000.

The teams are aiming to qualify for nine spots on finals day, Sunday. From them, one will take home the Duncan McIntyre Trophy, the supreme title awarded to the world's best kapa haka team.

The trophies were today handed back, and those kapa haka legends who've died since 2017 were also remembered. 

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    Today, local tribes welcomed the country’s best cultural performers and their supporters. Source: 1 NEWS