The powhiri itself was a true testament to Māori welcoming Māori to Hawaii, one of the organisers Kim Makekau says “ The arrival was awesome, many Maori come to that very venue and the place helps support their cause”.
This is the teams fourth trip to Hawaii and the goal over the years has been to elevate the Asia Pacific Invitatiojn tournament. In the beginning this was more of a social trip which has now morphed and grown into a very viable development programme. One of the NZ Māori team organisers Ross Taurima says “ we kind of saw this as an opportunity for a lot of the young guys, to come over and hopefully get recognised by some of the universities over here and lead on to scholarships “.
The competing teams as well as the tournament itself have developed over the years and the calibre of the top teams from across the pacific continues to grow. This year sees former Tall Black Paora Winitana’s first trip over to the event as a mentor for players and to help promote the young talent in this team. The competition will run over the next week with the winners competing on Friday for the top spot of the competition.