Mount Maunganui's Kehu Butler on his way to World Junior Championship qualification. Image courtesy of WSL.
For a third straight year, the prestigious Aotearoa Maori Titles will be staged along the striking Taranaki coastline and this year’s edition of the event will be supported by new principal sponsor Bayleys Real Estate.
The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend with the primary location being Waitara.
For the past two years, Kehu Butler (Mnt) has claimed the Open Men’s Division title. This year, Butler has gone on to win the World Surf League (WSL) Australasian Pro Junior Series, the first Kiwi to do so since Maz Quinn in 1996.
In doing so, Butler gained qualification into the WSL World Junior Championships being held in China in January.
Butler leads the way for a number of top young Maori surfers that are beginning their international campaigns.
They include New Zealand representatives Raiha Ensor and Elin Tawharu, both of Mount Maunganui who are in Japan at present set to compete at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games) starting Sunday.
Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha) is another Maori surfer on a hot streak, posting a second, third and ninth in the three QS1000 events held in Indonesia in the past month.
On top of that, leading male surfer on the World Qualifying Series, Ricardo Christie (Gis), sits in 17th overall as he chases requalification onto the World Tour.
The rise of Maori talent will now be supported by the partnership with Bayleys Real Estate which will help grow the Maori Titles.
Kei te harikoa a Bayleys Tu Whenua ki te tu hei kaitautoko whakaingoa mo te Aoteroa Maori Titles ki Waitara. Ko ta matou tumanako ki te tautoko me awhi nga mahi pai o nga tangata katoa e whakataetae ana mo te eke ngaru.
(Bayleys Tu Whenua is so pleased to be the named sponsor of the Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles at Waitara. We really want to support and embrace the outstanding efforts of all those who will compete in this surfing competition).
On top of the immense talent within New Zealand’s top surfers, the Bayleys Real Estate Aotearoa Maori Titles offers up an opportunity for Maori surfers to take part in a relaxed event, meet other surfers from around our coastline and connect with the Maori community – an aspect of the event that is equal if not more important than the titles themselves.
Waitara Bar Boardriders club member and New Zealand surfing legend Jason Matthews reignited the event in 2016 and is looking forward to this years edition working hard in the background to get things underway.
“Naumai haere mai ki Taranaki ano. The Waitara Bar Board Riders Club again welcome our esteemed guests to mounga Taranaki. In addition to the surfing, we will have another evening for whanau with a fun sports evening followed by a wananga in our wharenui Te Ika Roa a Maui. Once again, our home will become your home. Mauri ora” exclaimed Matthews.
The Maori Titles bring together surfers from around the country for a weekend filled with culture, fun and of course a surfing competition. Manuhiri nationwide will look to topple the strong iwi of Ngati Ranginui who claimed the ‘Iwi of Origin’ in 2017.
On top of the premier Open Men’s and Women’s divisions, the Maori Titles includes nine additional divisions with junior and senior age groups as well as longboard and stand up paddleboard divisions. For the first time this year, an Amateur Division has been included to encourage those surfers that have never competed before to give the event a go and join in on the fun.
The powhiri will be held at 6pm on Friday evening at Owae Marae, Waitara to welcome all manuhiri. Surfing action at the event will get underway from 8am on Saturday morning subject to conditions.
The poroporoake will take place on Sunday afternoon at Owae Marae.
Please see below for defending champions from the 2017 Aotearoa Maori Titles presented by Evitan Events.
Open Men’s Division - Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Open Women’s Division - Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa)
Under 18 Boys Division - Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Under 18 Girls Division - Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa)
Under 16 Boys Division – Josef Jungwirth (Ngati Ranginui)
Under 14 Boys Division - Jayden Willoughby (Nga Puhi)
Over 35 Men’s Division – Khan Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Over 45 Men’s Division – Pipi Ngaia (Te Atiawa)
Longboard Division - Jamie Andrews (Te Atiawa)
Stand Up Paddleboard Division - Geoff Pardoe (Ngati Porou)
Amateur – Patrick Kilmister (Te Atiawa)