In a statement released on Friday, NZ Māori Hockey Kaunihera said it had become apparent that tangata whenua’s [sic] health and well being, the whanaungatanga of the tournament itself, and staying within the NZ Government guidelines relating to events held in the various levels of COVID, were at the forefront of its decision.
Scheduled to be held in Nelson over Labour Weekend, the tournament has now been re-arranged for Te Waipounamu to host it next year instead.
Tenga Rangitauira, a Waiariki representative on the national council, told Te Ao Māori News that while it didn’t come as a surprise that the decision was made, it still disappointing for the many Māori hockey players, who were looking forward to the weekend in Nelson.
“E ngākaunui ana te tokomaha o Ngāi Māori e tākaro haupoi ana ki tēnei whakataetae.
Most Māori who play hockey really love this tournament in particular.
“Ahakoa te wā o te tau, e tino hīkaka ana ia kaitākaro, ahakoa taiohi mai, taipakeke mai. Nō reira e mōhio ana ahau e tino hinapouri ana ngā kaitākaro Māori o te motu.”
No matter the time of year, everyone young and old is eager and excited about the tournament. So no doubt they’re all disappointed.
To get to Nelson, many of the teams, including Waiariki would need to travel via Auckland Airport – currently a near impossible option under alert level 3
Even if Auckland was to move down to alert level 2, and re-join the rest of the country, the whanaungatanga element of the tournament would be removed to satisfy government requirements. Rangitauira says that would mean one of the key aspects that makes the tournament Māori would be absent.
“Ki te kore te whanaungatanga, ehara i te whakataetae Māori.
Without whanaungatanga, it’s just another tournament.
“He motuhake rawa atu te whakataetae haupoi Māori, kāore e kore e pēnā ana ngā whakataetae hākinakina Māori katoa. He motuhake ana, he rerekē ana ki ērā atu o ngā whakataetae nā te mea kei te rongo i tērā wairua Māori e hīkaka ai te ngākau Māori kia tae atu ia tau, ia tau.”
The Māori tournament is a totally different event to others, no doubt other sports have the same experience. It just has a different feeling, a Māori feeling that keeps drawing people year after year to these types of events.
An example of how the 100 person limit would affect the whanaungatanga of the tournament, Waiariki, one of 8 rohe under the NZ Māori Hockey umbrella, took more than 80 players to last years tournament in Hamilton.
Despite the setback, Waiariki Māori Hockey is planning a mini tournament at home over Labour Weekend to celebrate 30 years of the national tournament, and in particular one of their true veterans.
“Kua tapaina te ingoa o te whakataetae ko Te Aroha o Te Waiariki, i runga i te whakaaro o te whanaungatanga.
We’ve named the tournament Te Aroha o Te Waiariki, to reflect that whanaungatanga.
Ka mutu ko tō mātou amorangi ko Aroha Thompson. Ko ia te kaitākaro noa iho o Aotearoa kua tāe atu ki ia whakataetae mai i te tau 92, a kei te tākaro tonu ia. He hautipua ia, e tika ana kia whakanuia ia,” says Rangitauira.
But it also pays homage to our leader, Aroha Thompson. The only person across the whole of Aotearoa to have attended and played in every tournament since 1992 and is still playing today. She’s a legend, and it’s only right that we acknowledge and honour her this way.
The 30th Annual NZ Māori Hockey Tournament will now take place from the 21st to the 24th of October next year in Nelson. NZ Māori Hockey says it will assist people involved in the tournament with travel or accommodation bookings affected by the postponement of this year's event.