Whānau-friendly tournament missing this year, returning next Christmas holidays

By Te Ao - Māori News
Wimbledon quarter-finalist Dame Ruia Morrison, with an admiring tennis star of the future.  Photo / File

More than a hundred Māori tennis enthusiasts from around the motu would usually be readying themselves about now for the start of the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association Tournament, traditionally held over the Christmas holiday period.

This year's 95th annual tournament was to take place at Waikato Tennis Centre in Hamilton next week but was called off a couple of months back for safety reasons because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the time, the Aotearoa Māori Tennis executive said in a statement that the decision to postpone this year's tournament was "made in the best interest of everyone".

"This proverb comes to mind as it encapsulates the essence and importance of who we are," the statement said.

"'Ko te toto o te tangata he kai, he whakapapa. Ko te oranga o te tangata he whenua, he moana.'
"While food provides the blood in our veins and whakapapa. The life of a person is land and the sea."

Dick Garratt.  Photo / File

Tournament organiser Dick Garratt has since told Waatea News that postponing the whānau-friendly event has been heart-breaking for all concerned.

“We’re endowed with a very strong kaumātua representation above our executive and it was at the wish of Sir Tamati and Lady Tilly Reedy that we think of the wellbeing and health of our people, and the uncertainty around the logistics to put a tournament on," Garratt said.

"And so it was mainly around the health and wellbeing of our whānau and the rest of our kaumātua agreed," he told Waatea News.

The tournament, which is one of the country's oldest sporting events, will return to Waikato-Tainui in 2022.