Tainui Games pulls in the crowds
There's music blasting from the stage in the distance. Directly in front of the stage is a swarm of people kitted out in the colours of their marae. They're singing, they're cheering, they're embracing the spirit of the 2014 Waikato Tainui Games.
Kiwi bands Sons of Zion, 1814, Magic Paora, Sammy J and Bella Kalolo each take their turn at entertaining the 25,000 strong crowd.
It's the finale to the event and you couldn't imagine a better scene.
This weekend saw the final two days of the three weekend series with marae going head to head in a range of sporting events and activities.
"This weekend was phenomenal. It was better than good," Tainui spokeswoman, Kiriwai Mangan said.
While traditional sports like touch rugby, netball, basketball and volleyball drew big crowds, the most popular sport was by far the power pull, which saw marae go head to head in a battle of brute strength.
"People have been really enjoying themselves and getting right behind their marae," she said.
Angela Jerry of Tokanganui a noho marae made the trip with three carloads from Te Kuiti to represent Tomotuki marae in volleyball.
She said the entire weekend had been a fantastic trip and she had really enjoyed both participating in the sport and spending time with whanau.
"It was mean. We won the volleyball," she said.
Meanwhile Preston Muru from Ngaruawahia had been spending the weekend watching and cheering on his marae in the power pulling competitions. While the overall results from the tournament had not been announced when Mr Muru spoke to the Waikato Times, he was confident that Turangawaewae was going to take it out.
"We done pretty well, I reckon," he said.
The games are held every two years, and this year kicked off on Saturday January 18 with surfing at Manu Bay in Raglan. On January 25, indoor bowls, Ki-o-Rahi, tennis and waka ama were held at Turangawaewae Marae and Paterson Park, Ngaruawahia.
This weekend saw the main event at the Hopuhopu Sports and Tribal Complex. Activities included power pulling, touch rugby, netball, basketball, table tennis, volleyball, chess and a hikoi (walk).
Ms Mangan said the main aim of the event had been to promote healthy lifestyles and tribal pride.
With a bumper crowd that blasted away numbers from previous events, she was confident that goal had been achieved.
The overall winners of the games were Turangawaewae marae and second equal went to Te Tokanganui A Noho marae and Motakotako marae.
- Waikato Times