Māori Golf Association sets sights on youth

With the New Year came a new Māori golf tournament at the base of Mt Tauhara. Long time organiser and competitor, Wharehuia Milroy says that as with all prior tournaments the key goal is to bring together players from around the country in the various regions to experience what each unique iwi of the area has to offer in terms of talent and surroundings.

The Māori tournament is now in its 76th year and began as with every other tournament with its Annual General Meeting, where a ten year business plan was introduced to increase the growth of Māori golfers. Board member John Cribb says this plan was set in the best interest of golf and would bring together the regions to assist in the development of juniors. He says the entire board believed it was an integral key to a brighter future for the sport.

This was a long awaited plan as up to 17,000 players across the country did not re-new their memberships in recent years. A big part of the plan is creating a youth development programme to assist any and all Māori interested and a pilot programme will begin in Taupō in the second term of the holidays. Phil Tatauranga has already expressed his support for the idea and a willingness to participate and share the knowledge he has of the sport with up and coming Māori players.

In addition to the many positives of this year’s tournament, for the first time ever the winners of both the Open Mens and Open Womens competition will get an automatic entry into the NZ Open tournament.

Talented young up and comer Te Rongopai Clay says, that is a huge incentive for anyone competing this year as it will automatically put them on a stage that would enable people around the country and the world to see the talented Māori players New Zealand has to offer.

While the veterans support the development of the elite youngsters they say the true home of those accomplishments are with the family. One of those very veterans, Iritana Tawhiwhirangi says the wellbeing of Māori whether it be physical or mental lies with the family.

The competition will run over the next week.

Reporter: Kereama Wright.