Māori making their mark in the art of Bodybuilding

By Tamati Tiananga

Te Kāea sports reporter Tamati Tiananga tagged along with some of the Māori competitors at the NZ International Federation of Bodybuilding (NZIFBB) competition earlier this year. This feature looks at the achievments Māori are making in the sport.

Bodybuilding is a sport of measuring muscle inches, muscle size, muscle symmetry and proportion.

For the individual, it's a sport in which the perfect muscular figure is developed over endless hours of lifting weights.

Competitors are pumped and ready to go, but as Tiare Tawera of Tūhoe explains, the journey to get here has been the toughest he's ever experienced, a journey that began almost five years ago.

“People must understand that the most important factor about this sport is food. 70% is about eating the right foods, so first you must get your diet right, and then you are set to lift weights. If you get these things right, you can go far in this sport.”

In 2010, Tiare decided to change his lifestyle. The young role-model for Māori who presents the award-winning children's Māori language show Pūkana, felt his image was fading mainly due to unhealthy lifestyle. So he made the decision to change and be a good role-model for his daughter, Owairea Tawera.

Looking back to 2011, Tiare remembers the hard times, not coming first at the NABBA competition. Coming second in the under 70kg novice at the regionals and a second placing at the nationals.

Three years on, and after all the hard work, he's achieved first place in the Novice Men's 80-90kg at the recent NZIFBB Waikato regionals and a spot at nationals.

He says, “I'm speechless because it's an amazing feeling. All I wanted was to qualify to compete at the nationals and to place first. You saw the other competitors, I was the smallest.”

Tainui's professional bodybuilder brothers Teina and Kenny O'Malley believe success comes with failure.

Kenny O'Malley says, “They all should be acknowledged. It's great to see so many Māori in this sport.In the end, let's just say Māori are the winners.

Another strong competitor is Janna O'Malley of Tainui a descendant of Ngāti Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga and Te Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi.

“I'm here to compete on that stage, and I must say it was certainly different experience.”

For the winners, preparations for the Arnold Classic next year in Australia get underway.