Aotearoa skateboarding community celebrates 44 years

updated By D'Angelo Martin

Hundreds gathered at Victoria Park in Auckland to celebrate the sport which first came to New Zealand 44 years ago and will feature at the Olympics for the first time later this year. The sport is a billion-dollar industry in which Māori are being encouraged to explore opportunities.

For more than forty years, New Zealanders have heavily embraced skateboarding, a sport for everyone of all ages across the country.

Chareese Henare, of Ngāti Kahungunu, is a part of Skateboarding New Zealand and is one of the many who are keeping the sport going strong here in Aotearoa. She encourages her five kids who are regular skaters.

"As a whānau, we get all our kids around the parks as much as we can," Henare says.

"So, from Mangawhai in the Far North all the way down to Christchurch, which is where there seems to be another big competition every year, and everywhere in between."

For Henare and her family, skateboarding is a true passion which has opened up multiple doors of opportunity for them.

"We actually bought a motorhome around 10 years ago because my son just wouldn't leave the skatepark and we couldn't pull him away from it, and we would tour and spend a lot of months touring the country," she says. 

"It's just taught them how to interact with a range of different people and they know people all over the world."

Frank Edwards, who was a trailblazer and helped introduce skating to New Zealand, says Māori excel at the sport.

"I'm going to be called racist for saying this but Māori are generally the best skateboarders," he says.

"I think it's another platform for young and aspiring people, especially like the Henare family, who are saying where do we go with this? And all of a sudden, they can be representing their country at the Olympics."

Skateboarding will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo later this year.

"For those who are competitive, and not all skateboarders are, then it's a wonderful thing. iI's aspirational and it's going to lift the sport worldwide up," Edwards says.

Some assumed that skateboarding was a dying sport but that obviously is not the case.