Aotearoa Māori Surf Titles celebrate 25th anniversary

  • North Island: West Coast

Over 50 Māori surfers came together over the weekend at New Plymouth's Waitara beach for a good break with this year marking the 25th anniversary of the Aotearoa Māori Surfing Titles.

Flat swells saw a delay in eager athletes taking to the water with organisers forced to postpone the two-day competition by a day. However, that didn't dampen the spirits of those who travelled far and wide to get there.

"It's an opportunity for us to learn tikanga, learn Māori because there's a lot of urban Māori who surf, a lot of them who haven't been involved on a marae so this is an opportunity for our Māori surfers to reunite themselves with our tikanga and kaupapa," says event organiser Steven Ria.

This year sees the inclusion of a new amateur section in what organisers hope will bring a swell in numbers in the future.

Pipi Ngaia says, "All you need is yourself. There's no reservation, you don't need to buy anything, you just need to come down."

It's a first time for 13-year-old Te Kauwhata Kauwhata at the tournament travelling as far as Whangarei with his family. For him, it's a stepping stone to a future in surfing.

"I've been surfing for four years now and there's heaps of amazing surfers at this tournament so you'll get the new and the best."

This weekend will see some of NZ's best surfers take to the water including multi-international NZ representatives Chris Malone, Jason Matthews and Kehu Butler to name a few.

Kehu Butler says, "I feel like the mainstream ones, it's more so you're worrying about yourself around the event but at this event, everyone's all playing the ball around and everything and playing touch, yeah, there's just a whole lot of whakawhanaungatanga around this."

These surfers hope for better swells tomorrow for final day.