Eruera Keepa has become the first Māori in bodybuilding history to take out the prestigious NZIFBB competition. The kapa haka performer says keeping strong Māori values has been the guide to his success.
Eru Keepa (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Rārua, Te Arawa) says, “To place first, is the bonus. It's merely the bonus of all the hard work so on top of my own boxes it's rewarding because a lot of hard work went into it.”
That hard work has been 15 weeks of training for the NZIFBB. As well as training and performing with Rotorua based kapa haka group Te Mātārae i Ōrehu at the 2017 Te Matatini festival.
Keepa says, “Two weeks ago you had Eruera Keepa the kaihaka and today you have Eruera Keepa the body builder. So in terms of training, the priority was always today’s event, the program that was always the priority, however, I looked at Te Matatini as part of the process for today.”
His bodybuilding dreams go back to his childhood where he was influenced by close whānau, Eruera says seeing how Māori values and bodybuilding easily went hand in hand inspired him.
Keepa says, “O'Malley siblings, Teina, Kenny and Jana. Seeing how they apply themselves to it and how they still hold their values and their principles: Kia māori te tū, kai māori te āhua.”
Keepa says that a coach is something you must have should you decide to take up the sport.
“You might think its eating kumara, chicken and fish, there's a whole other dynamic to that. Also, do it for the right reasons,” says Keepa.
The victory in the Novice Men’s category has now set Keepa up, who is also hungry for more success.