Lifelong love keeps competition going

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
Aotearoa Maori Surfing
DEENA COSTER/Fairfax NZ
SURF CULTURE: Aotearoa Maori Surfing Inc president Peter Martin is hoping for a good turnout at this year’s national championships which will be held on March 8.

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Surfing helped turn Peter Martin's life around and he is committed to keeping the culture of the sport alive.

As president of Aotearoa Maori Surfing Inc, Mr Martin is in the final stages of organising this weekend's Maori national championships.

The event is in its third year under the guidance of Mr Martin.

"I'll keep involved in it till I die now," he said.

The Waitara man said his love of surfing began at a young age when he was introduced to the sport at a time when he might have gone off the rails.

"I was one of those kids growing up."

He said going to the beach gave him something to do and it is where he met people who invited him to join the board riders club.

"It's a good healthy lifestyle for young ones and gets them off the street," said Mr Martin, who is also teaching his 9-year-old daughter to surf.

This personal experience, along with a desire to promote the sport particularly to Maori youth, provided him with motivation to keep the champs going after funding cuts threatened its future.

He said he, with wife Stella, had fund-raised and spent their own money to ensure this year's competition went ahead.

Last year's contest attracted around 20 competitors.

Support from Turners and Growers, Beach St Surfshop, Te Korimako O Taranaki and carver Tanerore Barbarich had also been vital, he said.

Competition will begin on Saturday at either Waitara or Back Beach depending on the conditions. Commentary and scoring on the day will be spoken in Te Reo.

There will be age group categories for females and males, including 10 years and under, 15 years and under, 18 years and under and an open division.

The last event of the day will be the TK Wano Expression Session for those 50 years and over.

This category had been created to honour surfer and broadcaster TK Wano who died in 2011.

"He was always there for us," Mr Martin said. A powhiri for competitors starts at 6pm today at Waitara's Owae Marae.

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