Māori golf enthusiasts celebrated the best amongst them Friday night at the inaugural Māori Golf Awards in Taupō. Waihoroi Shortland, the new patron for the association, opened the proceedings alongside host iwi Ngāti Tūwharetoa.
Mia Scrimgeour (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Ruanui) who won the senior women's award and was one of those celebrating the best of Māori golf says, "It's amazing, the atmosphere is so great. There are so many great people here and I am so blessed."
Another with a reason to celebrate was Owen Lloyd (Ngāiti Porou) who received the senior men's award, "Come on up to the Māori tournament. It's good fun, good people, it's awesome."
Tainui's Polly King, who has won the senior women's division seven times, was honoured as a lifetime member at the event at Taupō's Great Lakes Centre. She says she loves hearing te reo Māori spoken on the green.
"I saw a lot of their games and last night it had a big effect because they've got the reo. And all of those children, they came and they spoke the reo and they had the manners of discipline."
For three years, Māori Golf has been developing the Māori language amongst its golfers, including through a programme called Moko Koko where the athletes learn with kaumātua.
"At one of our national competitions, we had rangatahi present their genealogy to their elders," Māori Golf board member Bernie O'Donnell says.
The association's new patron Waihoroi Shortland says there is more to come under his leadership.
"I'm looking at implementing an initiative that will implore the essence of Māori into golf. An initiative that is unique and inclusive of both Māori and Pākeha," he says.
The association is encouraging more Māori to get involved in Māori Golf.