Thirty-five secondary school teams are in the Hawke's Bay set to compete for the coveted Kī-o-rahi Secondary Schools nationals title.
The biggest Kī-o-rahi nationals to date kicks off tomorrow morning at Hawke's Bay Sports Park, while teams will have their official pōhiri later today.
Over the past five years, the national committee says they've averaged between 20-25 teams so this is the first time there will be six pools.
Two-time defending champions will be looking to win their third title, and in the process, become the first team to win three consecutive national tournaments. Meanwhile, Tūranga Wahine Tūranga Tāne (Gisborne Girls and Boys High Schools) and Te Wharekura o Rākaumanga will also be hoping to add their names to the trophy for the third time.
The 35 teams will be split into 6 pools (5 pools of 6 teams and 1 pool of 5), with the winners of each pool, and the two best runners up will advance to the Top 8 on Tuesday.
The tournament features teams from Okaihau in the north, and Christchurch in the south, with a handful of kura from the Central North Island region.
With a large boost in numbers, it is also no surprise to see many schools new to the tournament, including two of the country's oldest Māori Boarding schools, Te Aute College and Hukarere Girls College.
The tournament gets underway on Sunday with a Pōhiri, and the action kicks off at 8am on Monday morning.
The Pools, and participating teams are:
Pool A - Rāpanga i te ati nuku: Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Horouta Wānanga, Tawa College, Te Waha o Rerekohu, Karamu High School, Manawatu College, Tai Wānanga Tū Toa.
Pool B - Rāpanga i te ati rangi: Lincoln High School, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kōkōhuia, Te Kuiti High School, Tarawera High School, Fielding High School.
Pool C - Mānini Kura: Lytton High School, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hōani Waititi, Hamilton Boys and Girls, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe, Rotorua Boys and Girls.
Pool D - Mānini Aro: Gisborne Boys and Girls, Mana College, Ngā Puna o Waiōrea, Hastings Boys and Girls, Tokoroa High School, Te Wharekura o Tupoho.
Pool E - Tangi Wīwini Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Hou, Te Wharekura o Rākaumangamanga, Te Kura o Ngāpuke, Palmerston North Boys and Girls, Pātea Area School.
Pool F - Tangi Wāwana: Tolaga Bay Area School (Ūawa), Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae, Te Aute Boys and Hukarere Girls, Ōkaihau College, Ōpōtiki College, Te Kura o Hīrangi.