Waimana Touch Tournament kicks off the New Year

By Taroi Black

Te Waimana Kaaku a small humble community in the Tuhoe Nation, hosts a New Year’s touch tournament with the aim of bringing 12 local marae together. The tournament is also used by many touch players as a training ground ahead of the Whakatane Touch Tournament to be held January 6th – 7th, the largest club championship in the world.

Peter Barsdell, (Player - Representing Tauanui Marae), "It's just as competitive as rep touch if not more. Playing for your marae, playing for you hapū, your whānau, so the motivation to go hard is there and no one wants to lose."

The annual Waimana Touch Tournament is aimed at bringing whānau and friends together over the summer break. 

Marewa Titoki, (Kaimahi), “We were going to turn this event into a Pā Wars so the main trophy is a wharenui which encapsulates the essence of this competition.”

For the fourth year running, Waimana boasts more than 30 representative and former elite players. 

Barsdell says, "I saw quite a few ex-New Zealand players out there and some of them don't look like they've been training over the summer but the skills are still there and as you know, there's a lot of talent around the community so it's seeing rep players come down to marae level - it's awesome!"

The competition is undoubtedly all about marae bragging rights in Waimana, bringing together more than a hundred athletes.

Marewa Titoko, Worker (Kaimahi), "We hope that our families continue coming back to this particular event and as we all know representing your home place Te Waimana Kaaku is always the focus. That's our goal for next year."

In the end, Whakarae and Tauanui took away Social and Opens.