The 30th annual Māori Netball Tournament got underway this weekend despite organisers being concerned about the impact of Cyclone Cook. Many of the teams who traveled were affected by the devastation which put them in doubt to participate.
With a turnout like this, it is hard to imagine the difficulty these people faced turning up to Netball Manurewa.
Tournament organiser Pauline Wharerau says, “We had to consider the fact that our whānau safety is paramount and we have our Waiariki [teams] from Edgecombe and Whakatāne that were deeply affected by the flooding, however, we've all come together.”
In its thirty years, the tournament has provided a platform for top Māori netballers to pursue higher honours. Despite the weather, nothing was going to stop that from happening.
“Tāmaki Makaurau as the host of our tournament has put on great weather for us. So we're just really excited and happy to finally be here,” says Wharerau
Braxton Te Riini (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Porou), who plays centre for the Ikaroa ki te Raki under-19’s team says, “This is an important event that promotes smoke-free and Māori women. So, I believe this tournament is about celebrating us as Māori to be brave and to stand strong in this changing world.”
Te Riini’s team are the defending champions, were out to lay down the challenge early, putting other teams on notice in their first encounter.
“This was our first game, we didn't start well but in the end, we got the win.”
There are many teams who the defending champions will need to look out for such as Waiariki, Ikaroa ki te Tonga and Tāmaki Makaurau as Seasons Turahui-Te Uawiri (Taranaki) says, “I think they all have the ability to beat us, we have a lot of skill in our team, so we believe that we need to front up and in these games.”
“Although we may achieve these feats in this tournament, we play as one,” says Te Riini.
With the effects of Cyclone Cook well and truly over, the time has come for these young ladies to step up and shine.