A shift up Northland’s West Coast to The Bluff provided challenging conditions for the preliminary rounds of the Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles today (Saturday 24th October).
Clean offshore winds and a solid 1.5m – 2.0m swell made for an entertaining day with all twelve divisions contested to the semifinal or final rounds which will be held on Sunday (25th October).
Late in the day, the quarterfinals of the Open Men’s Division were contested with top seeds advancing through to the semifinals including the favoured Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi), defending champion Chris Malone (Mahaki) and New Zealand representative Levi Stewart (Ngati Awa). The favourites were pushed by a number of the groms that are contesting two divisions including Josef Jungwirth (Ngai Te Rangi) and Northland’s Jacob Buckle (Ngapuhi).
The final four surfers in the Open Women’s Division were determined with defending champion Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa) confirming a title defence for the final day. Hutchieson will be joined by Brie Bennett (Ngati Hine), Natasha Gouldsbury (Te Atiawa) and Jaya Reardon (Ngai Tahu).
Bennett, Gouldsbury and Reardon also advanced through to the final in the Under 18 Girls Division.
The junior surfers hunted out the gems amongst big wash-throughs during the day with some impressive performances including the highest heat score of the day going to Ryder Pennington (Te Atiawa) in the Under 14 Boys Division with a 16.18 point heat total.
Whaingaroa surfers Kora Cooper (Ngai Tai), Josef Jungwirth (Ngai Te Rangi), Navryn Malone (Mahaki) and Jayden Willoughby (Ngapuhi) all advanced through their heats with good performances.
Local Ngapuhi surfer Te Kauwhata Kauwhata led the way for the host Iwi advancing to the semifinals of the Under 16 Boys Division. Other locals to advance through to the final day of the event were Isaac Johnston in the Longboard and Jacob Buckle in the Under 18 Boys Division.
The senior divisions were filled with past national champions, New Zealand representatives and national series champions. Darren Kiwi (Ngai Te Rangi) advanced to the semifinals in the Over 45 Men’s Division with a second place finish to Luke Baxter (Ngati Awa). Dawson Tamati also progressed through to two semifinals in the senior divisions with Motu Mataa missing out on defending his title in the Over 45 Men’s Division but advancing in the Over 35 Men’s Division.
A total of 21 Iwi are represented at the event. It is the first time the event has been held in Northland in its 25 year history.
The Maori Titles has a unique feel to it with a mix of top New Zealand surfers as well as many who focus their attention on Labour Weekend as the only time they pull on a coloured jersey in competition.
Divisions range from Under 14 Boys and Girls through to Over 45 Men plus longboarding and standup paddleboarding.
A schedule of events will be confirmed overnight Saturday with the event returning to The Bluff. A total of 6.5 hours of surfing is required to complete the event. The Poroporoake will be held at 6:30pm at Roma Marae.
For more information on the 2020 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles, please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
High resolution images will be available to media upon request. Images will be distributed free of charge.
The 2020 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles would not be possible without support from Oxford Sports Trust, Pub Charity, Far North District Council, Te Runanga a Iwi of Ngapuhi, Te Tuhua ki Aotearoa Charitable Trust, Aio Solutions Limited, Maori Flavoured Limited, Clements Contractors Limited.
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