Surprising change in Tūwharetoa sports challenge

By Jessica Tyson

Ngā Rēhia o Tūwharetoa Māori Sports Challenge was held over the weekend and for the first time ever there were no winners.

Sports coordinator Te Takinga New says instead of awarding prizes the purpose of the games was all about whakawhanaungatanga, whānau connection.

“There was no competition, no points, no need to do a score, no winners or losers. We all won at the end of the day,” he says.

More than 500 participants took part from a dozen marae across the central North Island at the games held at Tūrangitukua Park in Tūrangi. It is the first time the event has been held since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place in 2020.

“Our farthest southern participants was our whānau from Moawhango Marae and we had our whānau up in Taupō Waipahihi.”

The games included an iwi quiz, touch, volleyball, petanque, euchre, kī-o-rahi, whānau relay and football. There were three grades to play in including pakeke (adults), tai tamariki (children) and kaumātua (elders).

New says another highlight was seeing kaumātua socialising and having a 'big kai' in the kaumātua tent.

“It was really good just to see them together and playing petanque together and playing cards, playing euchre.”

But one of the most important parts of the day was paying respects to “one of our koroua, Te Kanawa Pitiroi,” New says.

Pitiroi was a stalwart of Ngāti Tūwharetoa tikanga and a supporter of Ngā Rēhia o Tūwharetoa Māori Sports Challenge.

“He was the one who maintained the histories, the stories of all Tūwharetoa.

“He was our pāpā and he was in charge of our iwi quiz year in, year out. So this is the first time not having him around and not being in charge of our iwi quiz.”

Next year New says the iwi quiz trophy will be named after Pitiroi.