May 6, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

3000 expected for marae sports challenge

2 min read

Laurilee McMichael | Daily Post | 6th January 2011

“Everything’s under control.”

That’s the word from Aroha French, one of an eight-strong committee behind Turangi and Ngati Tuwharetoa’s largest annual event, the Tuwharetoa Marae Sports Challenge.

Hosted by Nga Rehia o Tuwharetoa, the annual marae sports challenge will this year be at Turangi Park and other venues around Turangi this Friday and Saturday, and covers everything from table tennis, touch, netball and rugby to last year’s most popular sport, petanque. The activities are aimed at age groups from toddlers up to kaumatua and although there can be some fierce competition, the focus is on fun and whanau. It is also alcohol, drug and smoke free.

And with around 3000 people expected, the two-day event, now in its eighth year, just keeps growing.

Mrs French said 13 marae from around the Turangi-Taupo area had registered, as well as three other Tuwharetoa marae from Taumarunui, Kawerau and Feilding.

The sheer numbers for the marae sports challenge are overwhelming, with 109 teams alone registered for the petanque, and 26 for the rugby.

This year, in addition to the standard sports, games and activities, there will also be traditional Maori ball game ki-o-rahi for both adults and tamariki, plus other traditional Maori sports being introduced at the tamariki games.

Mrs French says the ki-o-rahi is already proving popular, with 10 teams registered.

There’s also another twist on the Trivial Pursuit challenge of previous years – an iwi quiz with questions entirely in te reo Maori.

Mrs French said that while the marae sports challenge, with its complex logistics, was a mission to organise, it was “an awesome mission” and it was all about fun by the people, for the people.

However organisers had had to be strict this year with a cut-off date for registration of December 20 to have enough time to make draws and organise equipment, she said.

Three marae which had tried to register after the cut-off had been turned away but were going to join up with other marae instead.

The event attracts people from throughout the Tuwharetoa rohe and around the country; and anyone who whakapapas to Tuwharetoa or is a spouse or partner of somebody from Tuwharetoa is welcome. Several Tuwharetoa families based in Australia make the pilgrimage every year, while others visiting from further afield such as South Africa, Hawaii or Britain include the marae sports in their trip.

“Whanau have been coming back in droves and the talk out there amongst the whanau is that marae are gearing up to have a good old competition against each other,” said Mrs French.

Besides sports, there will be the Marae Idol competition during the day on Friday, and live entertainment on Saturday, as well as a play area for children.

The Tuwharetoa Marae Sports Challenge kicks off at Turangi Park at 8am on Friday with a karakia. The sports start at 9am.

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