Dad's wero to sons - 'stick with sport, you keep out of court'

By Kelvin McDonald
Dad Tracy with youngest son Makaia Day-Brown. Photo/Supplied.

Before he lost his battle with cancer, dad Tracy Brown left his boys with a wero. Two years later, sons Kahu and Makaia Day-Brown are a step closer to turning pro in one of the world's fastest growing extreme sports.

Father and son. Tracy Brown with eldest son Kahurangi. Photo/Supplied.

15-year-old Kahurangi (Kahu) and 12-year-old Makaia (Maka) Day-Brown are freestyle scooter champions, ranked no. 1 in New Zealand in their respective age-groups. 

2019 National Champs. Kahurangi, proud mum Rachel and Makaia Day-Brown. Photo/MADD Gear.

Earlier this month, they won their first national titles and in April they'll compete at their third Australasian scooter championships in Brisbane.

Tracy and Rachel on their wedding day. Photo/Supplied.

Their father, Tracy Brown (Ngāti Raukawa ki Tainui/Ngāti Whātua), who passed away from cancer a week after his 53rd birthday in September 2016, would have been proud of their success but he wouldn't have been surprised.

"He was always of the point of view that these fellas have got good genes - real good genes," says mum Rachel Day-Brown (Ngāi Tahu).

Brown excelled at rugby, cricket and tennis and Rachel was a gymnastics rep when she was younger.  She's also a whanaunga of legendary All Black captain Tane Norton.  

“Tracy had high hopes for these lads, 'they’re going to be effing great' he'd say.”

Tracy's sons keep his memory alive at the skate park. Credit: Timothy Upfold/T.G.U. Media

Tracy was unwell for five years with cancer but especially so in the last year. 

"He was really, really sick and we had to move [from Timaru] to Hamilton for his last try at surgery.  So the kids had a terrible year,” says Rachel.

But it was their dad's encouragement shortly before he died that would help Kahu and Makaia cope with their grief and set them on course for their high flying success.

"He said to them, 'I really want you to go to the NZ nationals this year ... I think you guys are good enough, go up and test out who you are.'" 

"He made that a goal for them, which I think is really important for them," says Rachel.

Wedding Day. The boys and their dad, and cousin. Photo/Supplied.

Makaia was just 10 years old and Kahu 13 when their father died.

“They’ve had terrible times, especially Maka had a terrible time because of the age he was."

"Three months later he came and said to me, ‘I’m never going to see my dad again'.  It was like a delayed reaction,’" says Rachel.

Photo/Supplied.

“I get really emotional and I get sad for the boys, sad for me, sad for Trace.  But the boys are like, 'you know what?  We’re just going to do all this for dad'."

In January 2017 the boys did exactly that, lining up at their first scooter nationals in Christchurch - and qualifying for the Australasian champs. 

They haven't looked back since. 

Last December, they achieved a global scooter first, becoming the only siblings in the world to secure sponsorship with a major international brand, MADD Gear.  The signing will set them up to become professionals- if the results keep going their way.

Photo/MADD Gear

The sport has softened the boys' grief and helped their dad's memory to live on through them.

“The scootering keeps their dream and their dad alive because that’s what dad wanted for them,” says Rachel.   

"It’s just been such a good, positive thing for them to throw their grief into."

It's also been a way their dad could help set his boys on a healthy path in life.

“He said this to me many times before he was going...make sure you keep them with their sport.

His whole saying was, “Stick with sport, you keep out of court.”