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Taranaki Hosts National Maori Surfing Championship


Chief Reporters Sports Editors Maori Affairs Reporters


The country’s top Maori surfers will turn out for the Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles in Taranaki this weekend.

Supported by the Smokefree brand, Auahi Kore, and sanctioned by Surfing New Zealand, the event will feature the cream of the New Zealand surf team.

This year's event begins with a powhiri at 5.30pm tomorrow (Oct 25) at Owae Marae in Taranaki and the competitions kicks off at 7.30am on Saturday and Sunday.

Surfing New Zealand Maori co-ordinator Steve Ria says the cultural flavour, relaxed atmosphere and mana of the event attracts the top Maori surfers as well as participants who have a limited amount of knowledge about surfing or who have never competed in a surfing event.

The competition was initiated by the Waitara Bar Boardriders club back in 1992 and was hosted there until 1997. Te Roopu Ngaru Toa Surfriders Club accepted the challenge to host the event in 1997 in Turanganui a Kiwa (Gisborne).

"The Maori Titles is more than a surfing competition," Mr Ria says. "It's a spiritual awareness for some, a learning curve for others but most importantly, it’s a time when family and friends can come together through their tribal links to experience kotahitanga (being as one)."

In the open mens, Chris Malone (Te Aitanga a Mahaki) will not be defending his title this year due to family commitments. He says there are so many top Maori surfers that it would be hard to pick a winner. "With me not being there, it's just one person less for the guys to worry about and I'm sure they're all pleased about that."

However, the 2002 New Zealand Team captain and number two on the Surfing New Zealand circuit, Daniel Kereopa, has a psychological advantage after winning the Big Wave Challenge two weeks ago and he will be the one to watch.

Defending open womens champion Lisa Hurunui (Mau Upoko) is also the favourite in her division. Her powerful style and aggressive attack on the waves and international experience are her best attributes.

"I'm not going to count my eggs before they hatch," she says. "Women's surfing has improved during the past few years and surfers like Kelly Clarkson (Te Arawa), Jess Santorik (Ngati Raparapa), Sophie Moore (Te Atiawa) and Kylie Pullen are very experienced surfers and I'm sure that it's not going to be a walk through by any means."

The junior and cadet divisions will be a very hard fought affair as New Zealand junior team representatives Matt Scorringe (Ngai Tahu), Mike Banks (Ngati Toa), Morehu Roberts (Rongowhakaata) and Richard Christie (Kahungungu) will need to call on their international experience if they want to make the finals.

They have the added pressure of competing against a group of surfers who have been performing well and gaining contest experience and confidence through various age group contests such as the Gromsearch Series organised by Surfing New Zealand.

Trevor Shailer from the Health Sponsorship Council says the Auahi Kore programme supports those Maori who want or have chosen to lead a healthy lifestyle by not smoking.

The council develops partnerships with the community through the support of important Maori events in sport and culture.

Other Auahi Kore-sponsored events include the National Maori Hockey Tournament which is being held in Whangarei this weekend; the Auahi Kore Maori Touch Nationals (Nov 30, Hopuhopu); the Mau Rakau Wananga – Wahine (Dec 6, Port Waikato); the Auahi Kore Maori Golf Championships (Jan 6-10, Rotorua); and the Smokefree Waka Ama Nationals (Jan 13-18, Lake Karapiro).

"Smoking is not a cultural norm," Mr Shailer says. "Auahi Kore wants to change attitudes towards smoking, helping Maori to stop smoking and encouraging others not to start."

A calendar of Auahi Kore events is available on the website


For more information, contact Steve Ria on 0272 811860; Trevor Shailer on 0274 498 469; or Mai Media communications manager Vanessa Bidois on 029 9777 838.

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