Māori paddle surfers are preparing for the Māori Stand Up Paddle Surf Club Competition in Gisborne, the premier national SUP surfing and SUP foil event in Aotearoa.
Sean Hovell of Ngāti Porou says, “From surfing in waves to racing, I go out every morning and set my cray pots, pick up crays, dive off them, downwind paddling with the sea breezes here- it's good.”
Having competed at national and international levels, these SUP surfers say it's a positive pathway for Māori youth.
“We come from a paddling background it's a healthy sport, gets you out on the ocean, we all live close to the coast, it's great,” says Hovell.
A Māori SUP surf champ in previous years, Geoff Pardoe of Rongowhakaata says, “Just anything to do with the water or hunting or whatever just get them active and get their minds doing stuff and do stuff they love it's all good.”
Hovell says, “If you can overcome challenges in the water you can overcome challenges in your life.”
Three-time national SUP surf champion, Stella Smith of Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Porou says the viability of the sport makes it a year-round pursuit.
“No matter what the surf is like you can constantly catch as many waves as you like and it's something different and you can go in any surf conditions. If it's tiny you can take out a bigger board and you can catch heaps of waves. If it's big you can sit out a lot further and paddle in easier so it varies depending on the conditions which always helps,” says Smith.
Police officer Geoff Pardoe says the benefits of the sport go beyond the competition.
“It's just good for your mental state. You get out there, you can just relax and just be one with the ocean and it's good in that sense, especially if you're stressing out about something, It's good to just take your mind away and relax and be one with nature.”
The competition will take place in Gisborne on the 26th-27th of April.