Thousands celebrate Tainui Games

By D'Angelo Martin

Thousands of Tainui descendants competed in the annual Tainui Games which celebrate the identity and culture of the sixty-eight Te Whakakitenga marae that make up Tainui.

Hopuhopu Sports Grounds were jam-packed with sports activities, with a message supporting the hauora and wellbeing of the tribe.

The games drew the people of Tainui together and gave them an opportunity to celebrate who they are as descendants of Tāinui using sports and other celebratory factors to achieve this.

"Whānau as far as Australia, the South Island, Northland and the East Coast return home and participate in the games this week. After the games are done, they then return back to where they live," Event organiser Hinga Whiu says.

She says it is an occasion for everyone, for the elderly and for the youth. 

"What brings me happiness is seeing all the young ones, all the elderly, enjoy their time here. People bring their families and get amongst the tribal celebrations, everyone comes together as one, eat as one, compete against each other, it's just awesome." 

Waikato-Tainui chief executive Donna Flavell says, "The games provide that opportunity for everyone to celebrate our tribal pride, to be proud about our iwi and what we're doing."

She is also encouraging whānau to get involved in the marae elections taking place this year.

"It consists of two representatives from each of our sixty-eight marae and so we want our whānau to start thinking of who they want to represent them for the next three years."

Flavell is keeping an eye on the future of her iwi as well.

"We want every single one of our 78,000 tribal members to be committed to the Kīngitanga, fluent in our reo, strong in our tikanga, educated, financially secure." 

Whiu says, "Ahakoa kei whea nā te hau o Tāwhirimātea ka hoki atu rātou, ā e rua tau anō ka hoki mai rātou."