Innovation rules at Tainui games

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2014

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Surfboards, footballs and hobnail boots are just some of the sports equipment being used at this year's Tainui Games.

Thousands of athletes will descend upon the tribal hub at Hopuhopu for the final weekend of the biennial games to sweat it out and take home bragging rights.

It is the fifth year the iwi has held the competition, which is run over three weekends, with events ranging from surfing, waka ama, power pulling, touch rugby, netball and chess.

Chairman of the tribe's executive arm Rahui Papa expected 20,000 iwi members would take part in the games before the final day on Sunday and, while competition was a must, pride in their heritage was the goal.

"Really, the aim is to build and re-instil our tribal pride so people come and go away feeling proud about being Waikato-Tainui."

Power pulling was introduced as a exhibition sport six years ago and it caught the imagination of the iwi.

"It's become one of the most popular. We had some whanau that were champions in that sport and we were willing to do some exhibition stuff three games ago."

He said a host of marae now wanted to be a part of the tug-of-war but some came more prepared than others.

"You get the guys who come in shorts and you get the guys who come in hobnail boots - the real professionals."

Surfing dominated the first weekend of competition and Mr Papa said the competition was fierce.

"There were full fields in just about every event," he said. "Waiting lists and people wanting to register on the day and wanting to surf at night.

All 68 marae have been represented at the games and many had learned iwi anthems for the mass kapa haka performance put on YouTube. More than 700 tamariki have been enrolled in kids events and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples will launch a special education resource kit at the games."Not all marae will take part in all of the sports. Some of them will be selective about which sports they take part in, some of them will take part in every sport."

The event will be capped off with a concert. elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

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- Waikato Times

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