A true competitor overcoming the odds

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Tama Wirepa lives with cerebral palsy, but he doesn't let it hold him back. The fourteen-year-old is training in preparation for the Halberg Junior Disability Games in Auckland this weekend.

“When I'm competing, it's all about having a go and I actually do like winning sometimes if I do, and also you get trophies or medals that you can get,” says Tama Wirepa (Ngāti Porou, Ngaitai, Tainui).

His proud and supportive mother, Katie Holden says, “We raised Tama just as normal, as he didn't realise that he had a physical disability until he was year 6, when he asked the question why his hand doesn't work properly.”

Wirepa was born with cerebral palsy which can cause muscles to tighten and affect movement.

“That's when we sat down and had the discussion around the cerebral palsy and what that means for him, and of course, it doesn't mean a lot does it? You just get on with life and he just works harder to get what he needs,” says Holden.

Around 200 athletes from eight to 21 years old will take part in the three-day sports event for the physically-disabled and visually-impaired.

A health and fitness role model, Wirepa also encourages his peers to get active.

“I try to make them get a move on, try to get them running, or something, that's part of it and it's pretty fun getting them out,” says Wirepa.

Wirepa will be competing in swimming, sprints, discus and the long jump.  He's also giving boccia a go - a hybrid of pétanque and bowls.

“Well, I do want to try new things.  Nothing is holding me back,” says Wirepa.

The Halberg games are being held at King's College in Auckland from Friday to Sunday.