Inside the Maori Golf Champs (Daily Post)

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LINING IT UP: Waihoroi Shortland (left) lines up a shot during his round at Lake View Golf Club.PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER 090112SP8  ByGreg Taipari |LINING IT UP: Waihoroi Shortland (left) lines up a shot during his round at Lake View Golf Club.PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

It’s one of the most successful and popular golfing tournaments, although often it’s more about camaraderie than competition.

Ask actor, writer and former Te Karere presenter Waihoroi Shortland, what makes the Maori Golf Championships successful and his answer is simple – mates.

Shortland is one of about 300 golfers who have converged on Rotorua for the 75th Annual Maori Golf Championships.

The five-day tournament sees golfers of all ages and levels competing for national and iwi pride.

The list of past winners features the who’s who of New Zealand golf with both Michael Campbell and Phil Tataurangi having laid claim to the title.

Although Shortland won’t be challenging last year’s winner, Northland’s Lee Neumann, for this year’s senior men’s title, he has his own challenge going on – the Mataatua Waka Challenge. The competition is between iwi from Northland and the Bay of Plenty who can whakapapa to the Mataatua Waka.

Shortland and his golfing partner Aubrey Hemara (Nga Puhi) are taking on Wharehuia Milroy and Chas Te Whetu (Ngati Awa/Tuhoe).

The competition between the men is a friendly rivalry filled with banter and plenty of ribbing.

On one hole this week Shortland had chipped his ball to within half a metre of the hole for an easy par, but he soon found Te Whetu had ricocheted his ball off Shortland’s to get closer to the hole, leaving the TV presenter with a more difficult 2m finishing putt.

Te Whetu’s response after a rich bout of laughter? “That’s golf. You’ve got to use every means possible.”

Shortland’s perspective on the shot was a little different. “It’s improving their lie (position). It’s a skill he’s good at.”

Although after the first day’s play Milroy and Te Whetu were leading the challenge, Shortland had a legitimate excuse for the Ngati Awa/Tuhoe team lead.

“I’m not one of what you would call the regulars. I’m an intermittent attendee. These fullas are far more regular – they’ve probably been to more tournaments than I have in the last 20-odd years.”

Shortland said the Maori Golf Tournament was a great event he liked to take part in whenever he could.

“I’m intermittent … But when we can we do and it’s always a good challenge, especially now that we’ve made it to the vets. I don’t have to put up with the thing of being kicked in the butt by kids.”

With the tournament celebrating it’s 75th year, Shortland said it had developed into a great event.

“It used to be an older person’s game. Now when you look around and see the young people, the discipline, just the joy of watching young Maori embracing the game. Those of us who have been around for a fair while, you know all the gains they get from the participation.”

So does Shortland consider himself a serious golfer? “In the mind always serious but with this company it’s more about the enjoyment of it.”

His group may not be a threat for the main prize – but it would be a good bet they will have enjoyed it just as much as the champions.

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