Mahia surfer Ricardo Christie has carved his way through the first round of the Corona Bali Protected competition in Indonesia.
Making it even more special for Christie (Rongomaiwahine, Ngāpuhi), he has been competing with the Tino Rangatiratanga and New Zealand flags proudly displayed on his shirt.
"I'm super grateful the [World Surf League] allowed me to represent the Tino Rangatiratanga flag which has a lot of meaning to me. It represents my Māori roots from home, and then I've got the New Zealand flag which represents my European side as well. Super grateful I can bring everyone together."
Ricardo Christie is proud to wear the Tino Rangatiratanga flag on the world surfing stage. Photo/WSL
Christie has followed in the footsteps of indigenous Australian surfer Solamon "Soli" Bailey, who earlier this year became the first person to wear the Aboriginal flag on his shirt on the coveted Championship Tour.
"I saw Soli get his Aboriginal flag on his sleeve and then I received a whole bunch of messages from home, people saying 'oi, you should get the Tino Rangatiratanga flag'."
Christie sent an e-mail that night asking if he could do that and says the response was positive. He was surprised to see it made possible so quickly.
"We didn't think it will be ready till J-Bay [Jeffery's Bay event in July}...I saw it on there when I picked up my rash vest and it was a pretty special feeling," he says from Indonesia.
Christie is due back on the water in Keramas, Bali on Tuesday for round two of the World Surf League event.