Mōkai Marae have returned to the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Marae Sports Challenge, after being absent for three years. Mōkai were also provided with accommodation by their relations Waitetoko Marae, after having nowhere to stay.
It's been a long time since Mōkai Marae took to the fields of Turangitukua, but to many, it is as though they never left.
Kaumātua Vince Hapu (Mōkau Marae) says, “It's the way it is, all our relations have moved away. They're all around the country. So, they've managed to turn up after the call went out to come home.”
According to Waitetoko Marae coordinator Maru Maniapoto, it was one of their members who came up with the idea to have Mōkai at their Mārae and participate as one.
Says Maniapoto, “He heard about them staying in one of the hotels in town. He thought about the connections between both Marae and invited them to Waitetoko Marae to stay as one.”
“Mōkai would like to acknowledge Waitetoko, Ngāti Rangiita. Why? Because they invited Mōkai to stay at Waitetoko Marae. That to me is an aspect of hospitality,” says Hapi.
Although these descendants of Ngātoroirangi are relations, on the field, they are enemies.
“When we get to the end of the games, we're all friends, we're all whanau, and we love one another,” says Hapi.
Says Maru, “We hope that at the end of the games, they announce the winners who are Mōkai and Waitetoko.”
Around 3000 people have attended the event but there are many who weren't able to make the games.
According to Hapi, that answer is simple, “Come home To all descendants of Pakake Taiari, to the children and grandchildren of Ngāti Te Kohera, come back to Mōkai.
Despite the competitiveness of the Marae teams of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, at the end of the day, camaraderie was the winner.