As we draw closer to the National Māori Rugby League competition, there's a team who has the desire to take out the winning title of the waka division once again.
Just recently Te Kāea went along to the training session of the team known as "Ngāti Umutahi", a team from Matata in the Bay of Plenty.
Having comeback with a finals win after a 10-year absence, Ngāti Umutahi are enjoying the fruits that competing in the National Māori Rugby League competition brings.
Hammond Matua says, “Over 80% of the players are related, we are all a big family, we're first cousins as well.”
Although they are a team derived from Matata, it consists of players all over New Zealand and Australia.
“Some have come back from Australia, from up North, from the South, so we have made the effort to come together and train for the competition,” says Hammond Matua.
Several new players have joined the team this year. Maniapoto and Tainui descendent Aaron Woodhouse is one of them.
Aaron Woodhouse says, "It's been awesome because I've known a lot of the boys in the team for a while and plus, they're a whole big family."
Aside from the physical training, practising the haka is also an integral part for the team.
Matua remains humble in regards to the team reaching the top level come this weekend.
They will strive to retain these trophies once again.