Labour Weekend marks the impending arrival of summer and at Waitara in Taranaki, the 2016 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles on Saturday and Sunday. Evitan Events is collaborating with Surfing NZ to not only deliver a stage for Maori surfers to compete, there'll also be a Clash of the Iwi element that is sure to spice things up a little.
Maori surfers form a strong foundation of the kiwi surfing culture and earlier this year, eight of the 12 NZ Junior Surfing Team repp'd their Maori ties on the world stage. This evening, Owae Marae in Waitara will host a powhiri and it'll also host guests from around Aotearoa who are there to enjoy the competition. Two days of surfing action will then take place before a poroporoaki will wrap things up on Sunday evening.
Surfers will compete for the national Maori men's and women's titles as well as Under 18's, Under 16's, Under 14's, Over 35 Men, Over 45 Men, Longboard and Stand Up Paddleboard titles. Those events will determine the best Maori surfers in their respective categories, with the top four in each category taking away points for their Iwi.
Local Taranaki surfers will mostly represent Te Atiawa Iwi, giving them a strong contingent heading into the event. Tauranga will also be strongly represented via Ngai Te Rangi, while Tainui's links to Raglan and Ngati Porou's links to Gisborne and the East Coast will see them lurking around the top of the competition.
There's a bit of history at play here as well, with the Maori Titles starting in Taranaki back in 1993 and the event will be hosted by the Waitara Bar Boardriders Club. With a south-westerly forecasted for the weekend, Waitara should be graced with at least a 1-metre swell over the two days and Waitara is perfectly poised to make the most of a low-pressure system making its way off the East Coast of Australia on Saturday and Sunday, across the Tasman and over to Aotearoa's West Coast on Monday.
With summer just around the corner, Surfing NZ's calendar starts to fill up and there's no better way to get the ball rolling with the Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles. Next weekend will see the 2016 Backdoor BayBash hit Hastings, so we'll touch base to see who the best Maori surfers are and which Iwi has the best surfers before previewing the BayBash.