Māori surfing competition to return to the fore

By Dean Nathan

A prestigious event that in some respects has lost its impetus in recent times was revived as the Waikato region hosted the Aotearoa National Māori Surfing Championships at Mōkau over the weekend. Its main aim being to reestablish the popularity of the sport that has been seen in past years for this event.

It wasnt a big turnout this year but the skill level was very high at the national Māori Surfing championships.

Tanerore Manawaiti Barbridge, of Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Te Rangi says that it was “it is good to see our top Māori surfers coming together at such a beautiful venue. It is an event that attracts grommets and veterans with the high level of youth in attendance this year, a good sign for the future.”

Peter Martin, the current President of Aotearoa Maori Surfing Incorported Society also says that “we've got heaps of young talent here today. It’s been quite good watching ten year olds out there and fifteen year olds out there.  Now, we've got our fifteen year olds that went out into the U18 girls [section] and now they’re going out into the open girls.”

Pete Smith of Ngāti Hangarau and Ngāi Te Rangi descent says that “Our plan is to use events such as this to develop the skills of our young people out on the water.”

Kea Smith is one of five youth from Tauranga named in the New Zealand youth team to attend the upcoming world cup in Ecuador.

Kea says that, “Worlds is like important to me because I’m like representing New Zealand... I'm really excited.”

With over twenty years since the inaugural competition, the event was likened to a breeding ground for many of New Zealands top surfing talent but under the management of Surfing NZ the competition was canned after 2009. However, now under the umbrella of the Aotearoa Māori Surfing Incorporated Society, it’s been given a new lease of life with the call going out to Māori surfers nationwide to come and support the cause.

Tanerore Manawaiti Barbridge adds that definitely “it’s a prestigious event and we're keen to revive the Maori Surfing Nationals and grow it so we can celebrate our top Māori surfers.”