Kaumatua Olympics full of fun

Last updated 08:22 24/09/2012

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Nearly 300 kaumatua from places all over the North Island gathered at the old Church College building for Rauawaawa Kaumatua Charitable Trust’s day of games.

The powhiri included waiata from Melville High School’s Mangakotukutuku kapa haka group and over 400 lunches were provided by sponsors and supporters. 

After a quick cuppa and biscuit, the games were opened and hilarity ensued as kaumatua played everything from seated volleyball, kumara toss, poi toa, wheelchair relays and the crowd favourite, Kumba - Zumba, modified for kaumatua.

The trust’s chief executive, Rangimahora Reddy, said the day was just a day of fun for all involved.

‘‘We use sports as an excuse to get together. It’s about making things really fun and for the betterment of our kaumatua. The key factor is isolation. So this is an opportunity to get together en masse like this, for a lot of laughs,’’ she said.

Trustee Rangi Marihera said five years there was probably only 40 or 50 kaumatua involved and this time that was up to more than 270.

‘‘It’s a huge success. Very seldom do you get so many kaumatua together in one place. So many kaumatua are behind closed doors with no communication, this is about opening the doors for them [and] getting them out,’’ he said.

Dominating the Kumba dancefloor, first time kaumatua olympian Te Rata Mahu was stoked he had made the split decision to go. Self proclaimed as one of the babies of the group, the 62 year old New Plymouth man said he would definitely be back next year to get up a sweat on the dancefloor, and encouraged kaumatua sitting at home to get out and join in. 

Betty Te Tai had returned after roughly six years to compete for a second time, but said it wasn’t really about winning at all.

‘‘It’s about joy, laughter, exhillaration and letting it all hang out. It’s just beautiful,’’ she said.

Despite the amount of organisation behind the scenes, Rangimahora Reddy said the kaumatua were the most important part of the day.

‘‘Our aim is to make sure they enjoy themselves and have fun and experience that whakawhanaungatanga. As long as they’re laughing and having a good time, we’ve done our job.’’

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- Waikato Times

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