Challenging times in Māori golf

By Taroi Black

Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, a life member from the National Māori Golf Championships, says their association is currently working to grow the sport and participation at their annual event by bringing in the likes of Michael Campbell, who will be inducted into their Hall of Fame tonight.

“We're looking at ways to build our game just like Waka Ama and Te Matatini”, she says.

This year the National Māori Golf Championships has 181 golfers take part in its annual summer event. 

"Despite the challenges for our tournament, it's about the history in which many have paved for our future golfers. It's important to keep going."

New Zealand golf has experienced a decline in participation in the last ten years. Before that, this tournament saw its biggest participation rate of over 500 Māori competitors. For the top seed women's player Te Rongopai Clay, it's about ‘tikanga’ Māori.

Ms Clay says, “This is my 11th appearance at the competition and out of all the events this is the one I love most because it provides opportunities for our people each year.”

Golf legend Michael Campbell believes he has a responsibility to grow the game despite the challenges in its current state.

“I know the game of golf has really suffered over the last 10 years or so and this is my way to make some kind of contribution to make sure the game of golf is in good hands. And it starts from the grassroots”, Mr Campbell says.