Māori surfing strong at National Surfing Championships

By Eru Paranihi
  • Auckland

The state of Māori surfing is evidently strong with the Under 14 boys stepping up to the plate today on day three at the National Surfing Championships in Piha. Three of those surfers are Māori and excelling.

Competitors in the water and mates on land, Raglan junior surfers Jayden Willoughby, Kora Cooper, and Josef Jungwirth took time out in between their Heats to recover ahead of their semi-finals.

“Just rest and watch the surf eat heaps of food and just chill out,” says Cooper who hails from the Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi of Ngāi Tai.

All three boys were introduced to the sport at an early age through their parents. Amongst financial and moral support, Phill and Wayne, who are fathers to Jayden and Kora respectively, support the boys by providing feedback during and after competitions.

Ngāpuhi’s Jayden Willoughby, who will be competing in both the Under 14’s and the Under 16’s divisions in West Auckland, recently competed at the 2016 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles in Waitara, Taranaki. Willoughby was not only successful in winning the Under 14’s title, but he also cleaned out the Under 16’s division.

"I was like above the moon just to win the 14's, and then to win the 16's is pretty awesome,” says Willoughby.

Their close friend, and fellow Raglan resident Josef Jungwirth, who is also competing in the Under 14’s division, arrived in Piha with Mother Ruchele and Father Michi supporting in the wings. The Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui teenager, who is a cousin to Redbull surfer Kehu Butler, is full of enthusiasm for the sport that he has had an affinity with since he was young.

“Just being in the water with all my mates and family, it’s fun,” says Jungwirth.

The boys are set to take the water again this afternoon when the semi-finals and finals get underway.