Waikato-Tainui's largest tribal sports event took place at Hopuhopu, in Ngāruawāhia this weekend. The 8th bi-annual Games attracted more than 20,000 participants, who were all keen to represent their Marae in the social head-to-head competition.
Waikato-Tainui Marae converged in mass on Hopuhopu sports fields, for their largest sports gathering, to celebrate their tribal Unity, Relationships and Waikato Customs.
Elder Jeff Tukua from Oraeroa Marae says, “The people are wonderful. This is for our children and grandchildren of tomorrow, the descendants of the Tainui canoe.”
Joidene Preston from Ngā Tai e Rua Marae says, “The most important things for us is maintaining our family ties, seeing the children and elderly playing and exercising.”
All 68 Marae belonging to Waikato-Tainui are competing, in various sports such as touch, table tennis and tug-of-war. There are lots of food stalls and services, such as a new ACC stall, who were strapping the feet of competitors for free.
It’s also an opportunity to nurture future leaders.
Youth Co-ordinator Leilani Naera said, “My role is to support the running of the games being played, especially these fields, for netball, volleyball and basketball.”
Rākaunui Marae youth Hera Rawiri, says, “I live in Australia, and I've returned home for a holiday. And, seeing the faces that you don't see everyday, to return to my family, and play netball for my marae. This will stay with me forever.”
The games was were also the platform for the tribe to launch their new Customs and Language Strategy called Tikanga Ora Reo Ora.
Te Ara Taura Chair, Rahui Papa says, “The purpose of our Tikanga Ora Reo Ora, is to strengthen, promote and motivate our tribe to speak our dialect, through resources such as books, APPs on the internet, and many more initiatives.
The tribe will return to Hopuhopu to do it all again in two years.