Māori surfers among competition favourites at National Surfing Championships

Three Māori junior surfers are amongst the competition favourites at this year's National Surfing Championships. The preeminent competition got underway at Auckland's Piha beach with the Junior U18s taking to the waters first.

Crowds turned out to Piha Beach for the national surfing competition to mark the beginning of the calendar year.

Ben Kennings says Kaiwhakahaere says, “It's NZ's most prestigious event, it covers everyone from the U14s through to the over 60s so you get a lot of families competing. You also get all the top guys, so a lot of the good guys like Billy Stairman and what have you come back from overseas and compete at the event which is really important.”

It's a weeklong event with over 200 top surfers from across the country taking part this year. For these surfers, their main aim will be selection for the NZ teams travelling to the world comps.

Kennings says, “All the top guys are looking to get into the NZ teams whether that's the junior team which competes towards the end of the year, the Open team which goes to France in May or the SUP team which goes to Norway in September, just looking at all the surfers throughout the week and seeing how they're going.”

First up was the Junior U16 and U18 Mens. Māori surfers Jonas Tawharu, Lee Ririnui and Kaya Horne took out the top spots in their heat. Last year the trio competed at the junior world champs in Portugal, they're looking for a reselection this year.

Lee Ririnui - Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Tahu says, “I'm pretty confident, I'm hoping if I perform like this again I can sail my way through to the semi-finals.”

The competition concludes on Saturday.