Māori making waves in SUP board surfing

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • North Island: East Coast

Three Māori Stand Up Paddle Board Surfers are looking to make waves at the National Surf Competition in Taranaki.

Stella Smith of Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Porou is number 3 in the world at SUP surfing. At just 16 years old the future is bright and her eyes are on the horizon.

“At first I was kind of hesitant about starting it because it wasn't really popular but when I started about three years ago I just thought it was heaps of fun and something so just started straight away”, says Stella Smith.

She's training ahead of NZ Surf Nationals this week where she's hoping to take home top honours for the third time.

“Yeah hopefully I've won it two years in a row so of course want to go for a third consecutive title but the girls are getting better and better so hopefully just try my best and surf as good as I can”, says Stella Smith.

Sean Hovell is from Te Araroa and is currently 11th in the World in the open men's SUP Surf and he's back chasing the NZ title.

Sean Hovell of Ngāti Porou, “It's been my aim for about 10 years since I've been in it. Surfing is a real subjective sport so we'll have to see how we go wave conditions and the waves you catch in your heat especially the finals makes a difference but definitely aim to make the final, top four”.

A National Māori SUP Surf champion in recent times, Geoff Pardoe of Ngāti Porou and Rongowhakaata is making a comeback.

“Started probably six years ago one of the bros used to do it so I gave it a crack and just fell in love with it really yeah it's real similar to surfing so a lot of things cross over from your longboarding and short boarding that you can use supping but yeah it's just the new fizz”, says Pardoe.

All three are aiming to be selected for the International Surfing Association (ISA) World SUP and Paddleboard Championship later this year.