Professor Pou Temara’s judged at most of the Te Matatini festivals since its inceptions, now he is taking the role up a step.
Pou Temara is Professor of Reo and Tikanga at University of Waikato and is a recognised tohunga and authority in Māori language, ancient karakia, kapa haka and whaikōrero. He will be taking on the new role of Chief Judge at Te Matatini 2019. He performed Kapa Haka from the 1950s to the 1990s, and has been part of the art form’s evolution. He’s composed, tutored, judged, and influenced many others in the medium.
Professor Temara says his new role comes into play if there are any issues with the judges. “If that happens I will be having a discussion with the them. Not so as to intimidate the judge, but to assist them with future judging. I don’t judge at Te Matatini: I sit there on the podium, a figure that is lost in the shadows and only comes out when there is a problem. Another possibility is that I may need to make a determination if there are equals. I hope I don’t have to do that, because that’s a rather nasty position to be in.” That may sound like he is about to be the Matatini troubleshooter, but Professor Temara explains that is not the case. “My role is to bring a maturity born of experience to the judging fraternity.”
Te Matatini uses an international marking system to score performing groups. According to Professor Temara, there are two kinds of Te Matatini judges: the negative and the positive. A positive judge starts from the benchmark of 85 points and marks up to 100. A negative judge starts at 100 and works back to the benchmark, taking away points for errors. Competition at Te Matatini is so hot the whole competition can be won on a fraction of a point. Professor Temara is of the positive variety. “Having been a performer I think about the hours I put in, the many times I swore, the many times I almost cried. You get to know these things and you feel some compassion for the performer. They’ve put in the hard work, and your job is to immediately think that because they’re done the hard work they deserve to be marked out of a hundred, so you begin from one hundred.”
As students and staff prepare to take the stage at Te Matatini 2019, Professor Temara says they will have had many months of practice and will be physically well prepared, but they must now be mentally prepared. “They have to be prepared for when they come out on stage and see all of Māoridom, all of the world in front of them. And that can be intimidating. There will be people there versed in karakia, who will be taking them through the steps and imploring the spiritual world to help them. However there is always the chance a novice may suffer from stage fright. They need to remember there are 39 other members there with them, just a metre apart - although that could be a hundred miles when you are on stage. You will be out in the open and giving it your all, and even then you may think that is not enough. But you will look for, and find, that added percentage within you that gives you the extra momentum. If you didn’t know that, then it could be an intimidating experience.”