Taihape whānau bring out competitive spirit

6:44 pm on 23 October 2015

Taihape whānau and at least three marae groups will be celebrating 10 years of an annual whānau sports event during Labour weekend.

Two players from different marae playing netball at the Taihape Whānau Sport Day

Two players from different marae playing netball at the Taihape Whānau Sport Day Photo: Supplied

Māori families in the northern Rangitīkei township decided 10 years ago to hold a sports event as a way of reuniting their relatives who were spread out across the motu. Whānau would be pitched against each other in netball and touch rugby.

The event has steadily grown and now included eight different sports codes, with the newest event being hunting and fishing.

Moawhango Marae coordinator and Mōkai Pātea Services general manager Tracey Hiroa said the event had been a great way to reunite hundreds of family members back to Taihape.

"It's been a great way over all of that time for our whānau to be coming back from all over the country," said Ms Hiroa, who is of Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Tamakopiri and Ngāti Whitikaupeka descent.

"We've actually had one of our whānau members that happened to be back from Hawaii and also whānau that have taken part that had been back from Australia and all over the place to support either individual whānau or their marae that are taking part in the whānau sports day."

The event had grown so big that this year it would be held at the Taihape Recreation Grounds near the town centre.

In the earlier years it was held at smaller places, such as the old Taihape College sports field or at one of the local marae.

Ms Hiroa said her marae Moawhango always had the most competitors.

"We've managed to get together 16 teams that will compete across the codes, which include netball, touch rugby, Texas Holdem (card game), tennis, golf, pool and darts, and the newest event, hunting and fishing.

"Hunting and fishing is an event that the whānau sports committee have brought into being this year after getting feedback from people as to what they wanted to see included in the events."

Whānau sports event benefits the whole community

About 500 people descended on Taihape for the whānau sports event, which had great economic spin-offs for local businesses, Ms Hiroa said.

"The whānau sports day committee has been able to garner and get support from local businesses," she said.

"The Gretna Hotel this year is where they'll be having the prize-giving."

Many of the local hotels and motels would be accommodating many of the people coming for the event as well as all of the marae in the rohe, Ms Hiroa said.

Three Māori events were held in the northern Rangitikei rohe each year, including Waitangi Big Day Out, Matariki and the Whānau Sports Day, thought to be the biggest Te Ao Māori occasion in the rohe.

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