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Butler Returns to New Zealand Waters in Search of Title Defence

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Mount Maunganui surfer Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi) will return to New Zealand competition for the first time this year as he looks to defend his title at the 2017 Aotearoa Maori Titles presented by Evitan Events being held in Taranaki.

The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday (21st – 22nd October) with the primary location being Waitara.

The Maori Titles bring together surfers from around the country for a weekend filled with culture, fun and of course a surfing competition.  Manuhiri nationwide will look to topple the strong host iwi of Te Atiawa who claimed the ‘Iwi of Origin’ in 2016.

For Butler, the Titles represent a brief stint in New Zealand where he can travel with his family and take in a local event.

Butler returned to New Zealand earlier this month after placing eleventh at the 2017 Vissla ISA World Junior Championship in Japan.  Next week he flies out to Australia for another international event as the World Qualifying Series nears the year end.  However, this weekend, it is a focus on domestic surfing, representing his family and iwi.

2016 marked Butler’s first time competing at the event and his first title to go with a win in the Under 18 Boys Division.  In the final of the Open Men’s Division, Butler defeated his father Khan, himself an ex-New Zealand representative, making the final even more special for the two surfers being contested in front of Khan’s father.

Top local surfer Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa) claimed her first title in the Open Women’s Division at Waitara last year and like Butler, took home the Under 18 Girls Division.  Hutchieson will be back in action this weekend in home waters and a break she is more than familiar with.

On top of the premier Open Men’s and Women’s divisions, the Maori Titles includes nine additional divisions with junior and senior age groups as well as longboard and stand up paddleboard divisions.  For the first time this year an Amateur Division has been included to encourage those surfers that have never competed before to give the event a go and join in on the fun.

The Maori Titles have long been held in high regard and the event has unearthed young surfing talent.  A number of our best surfers are Maori including top internationally ranked surfer Ricardo Christie, ex international athletes Sarah Mason and Lisa Hurunui, multiple New Zealand representative Daniel Kereopa and a number of current New Zealand representatives.

The emphasis of the event has always been as much on bringing Maori surfers together as it has been about high performance surfing and competition for New Zealand’s top athletes and the atmosphere at the event is like no other held in New Zealand.

The powhiri will be held at 6:00pm on Friday evening at Owae Marae, Waitara to welcome all manuhiri. Surfing action at the event will get underway from 8:00am on Saturday morning subject to conditions.  The poroporoake will take place on Sunday afternoon at Owae Marae.

Please see below for defending champions from the 2016 Aotearoa Maori Titles presented by Evitan Events.

Open Men’s Division – Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Open Women’s Division – Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa)
Under 18 Boys Division – Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Under 18 Girls Division – Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa)
Under 16 Boys Division – Jayden Willoughby (Nga Puhi)
Under 14 Boys Division – Jayden Willoughby (Nga Puhi)
Over 35 Men’s Division – Chris Malone (Ngati Porou)
Over 45 Men’s Division
– Jason Matthews (Te Atiawa)
Longboard Division
– Jamie Andrews (Te Atiawa)
Stand Up Paddleboard Division – Geoff Pardoe (Ngati Porou)

For more information on the 2017 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles presented by Evitan Events, please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

High resolution images will be available to media upon request. Images will be distributed free of charge.

The 2017 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles would not be possible without support from hosts Waitara Bar Boardriders Club, Evitan Events, Beach Street Surf Shop, Surfing Taranaki and Surfing New Zealand.

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