APPT Auckland: Haka gets blood pumping for day 1A field

By Landon Blackhall

It's a tradition at international events held in New Zealand (like the PokerStars.net APPT Auckland Main Event) for visitors to be welcomed with a spine-tingling performance that culminated in the traditional "Ka Mate" or haka, which we've just watched in awe at SKYCITY Casino in Auckland.

A real eye-opener for first-time international visitors, many players from the Australasian region are familiar with "Ka Mate", as the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union team perform this dance with precision and emotion before the start of each match.

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The fearsome Maori warriors welcome players to SKYCITY and New Zealand

The aggressive movements, wide eyes, distorted faces, tongues out and the booming voices tell the story of a famous Maori chief named Te Rauparaha. Legend has it he was being chased by his enemies when he came across a food-storage pit.

He jumped in to the pit to hide and when his foes had given up the search, he waited until Te Whareangi, the hairy chief of an ally tribe, found him and brought him back up from the darkness of the pit into the light of the sun. According to legend, Te Rauparaha then shouted the following words in celebration of life over death, which are still chanted to this day:

Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora! (I die! I die! I live! I live!)
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora! (I die! I die! I live! I live!)
Tenei te tangata, puhuru huru (Here stands the hairy man)
Nana ne i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra (Who brought the sun and made it shine)
A upane, ka upane (A step upward, another step upward)
A upane ka upane whiti te ra (A step upward and another, the sun shines!)
Hi!

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The ceremony is tempered with song before the dramatic Ka Mate finale

There were also screams and contorted facial expressions last night in the SKYCITY poker room, but they came from New Zealand's glitterati as they battled in Celebrity Invitational. It was Brotha D, the Godfather of New Zealand hip-hop, who triumphed over the field of more than 80 players thus earning him a seat in the APPT Auckland Main Event.


Watch APPT Auckland 09 : Player Party on PokerStars.tv

Meanwhile players and staff packed the 21 Bar for the APPT Auckland Welcome Party. The Steinlager and some magnificent regional wines were flowing as qualifiers hung out with PokerStars.net Team Australia Pros Tony Hachem, Grant Levy, Emad Tahtouh, Eric Assadourian and New Zealand's PokerStars Player Lee "Final Table" Nelson.

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SKYCITY Auckland Executive Manager - Table Games Ejaaz Dean is thrilled to see another huge field for the APPT Auckland Main Event

PokerStars.net Team Asia Pros Celina Lin and Bryan Huang, having flown almost 30 hours to get here after the PokerStars.net EPT London Main Event, also shook off the jet lag and shared in the fun.

The finale of the 2009 SKYCITY Festival of Poker (buy-in NZD $3250) is about to kick-off with seven levels scheduled for day 1A. Players will starts with a start bank of 20,000

The structure for today's play is:

Level 1: 50/100
Level 2: 100/200
Level 3: 100/200 (ante 25)
Level 4: 150/300 (ante 25)
Level 5: 200/400 (ante 50)
Level 6: 300/600 (ante 75)
Level 7: 400/800 (ante 100)