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Big weekend of Surfing Ahead for Te Tai Tokerau

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For immediate release

17 October 2023

From:     Surfing New Zealand
Sport:    Surfing
Event:    Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles
Dates:    21 – 22 October 2023
Location: Ahipara, Northland
Website: Surfing New Zealand

Big weekend of Surfing Ahead for Te Tai Tokerau

Te Tai Tokerau is set host Aotearoa’s top Māori surfers this coming Labour Weekend with a big contingent of competitive surfers from around the country making the trip north to Te Tai Tokerau. The Aotearoa Māori Surfing Titles is being held at Ahipara with the two-day event commencing on Saturday 21st October.

With a stacked draw and over 100 surfers, this weekend is always a highlight of the season. The lure of pumping Northland waves has attracted a large field of surfers across the fourteen divisions being contested, all manuhiri looking to make the most of the long weekend and northern manaakitanga.

In 2023 we will see the Open, Rangatira Tane contested by a large field of surfers both old and new. An exciting addition to the draw will be Dean (Dingo) Morrison, returning to Aotearoa recently. He has been working with Ahipara Boardriders club groms inspiring and coaching them and is looking forward to competing on home ground again. Another familiar face Tai (Buddah) Kereama who resides in Bali has also made the trip over to connect with his Maori roots and surf in this special event.

Other surfers that will make the long journey north include Tora and Te Rapai Barbarich-love, (Te Atiawa), Chris Malone, Over 35s Tupu and Over 45s Tupu 2022 Champion, Navryn Malone who was the Under 18 Taitamatane champion, 2022 finalist Te Kauwhata Kauwhata, (Ngapuhi), and Jason Ruddell (Te Atiawa) amongst a mass of other top surfers.

Sadly, 2022 Open Rangatira Tane Champion Levi Stewart (Ngati Awa) will not be attending this year due to injury. We will see a new Champion crowned in 2023.

In the women’s Open Rangatira Wahine defending champion Natasha Gouldsbury (Te Atiawa) returns to Te Tai Tokerau against a wide field of experienced wahine. Brie Bennett (Ngati Hine), India Kennings (Ngati Whatua o Orakei, Ngati Tamatera), Grace Gundry (Te Rarawa) and Te Waioutu Fairlie (Ngati Porou) are just some of the wahine who will be looking to end Gouldsburys seemingly endless winning streak. She claimed three titles at the event in 2022 which helped her team Te Atiawa retain the Iwi of Origin.

Te Tai Tokerau surfers will be a force to reckon with this weekend filling multiple divisions.  They will be led by 2022 finalist Kauwhata Kauwhata (Ngapuhi), Jason Ruddell, Chris Morrogh, Adam Bowmar, and father and son duo James and Taj Phillips. Grace Gundry, Indi Lee Ruddell, Katie Matuschka, Kauai Rahui, Callum Morrogh and Jacob Buckle will be some of the grommets making up the junior divisions.

With Regan Fairlie unable to attend to defend his Open Mens SUP title we will see a new champion crowned whilst Zen Wallis (Ngapuhi) returns to defend his Open Men’s Longboarding title.

A new taonga was presented at the poroporoaki in 2022 with Ricardo Christie and his whanau awarding the Tangaroatanga – Innovation Award – He tohu maumahara o Taniora – Danny Carse.  Will Hardie was the recipient, picked out by Ricardo for his outstanding surfing during the event and in particular his confident display of surfing in the Open Men’s Semifinals. This year this precious Taonga will be awarded to another surfer.

A total of 21 Iwi will be represented at the event all working toward the Iwi of Origin title currently held by Te Atiawa.  This will be the third time the event has been held in Te Tai Tokerau in its 27-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 and Women plus Longboarding and Stand Up Paddleboarding.  Whanau and friends attend the event as a celebration of surfing with the Friday evening powhiri setting the kaupapa for the long weekend.

The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday of Labour Weekend (21-22 October).  On Friday evening (6:00pm sharp), the powhiri will be held at Roma Marae where manuhiri are welcome to stay for the duration of the event.

The swell forecast looks to sit around the 2m mark for the points with S, SE offshores to blow most of the weekend. The event is mobile and a decision on where the event will be held will be made on Friday evening.

The full draw can be viewed on www.liveheats.com by searching Surfing New Zealand.  Live scoring will be available subject to phone coverage.

A schedule of events and location for each day will be confirmed at the powhiri on Friday night.

Please see below for defending champions from the 2022 Aotearoa Maori Titles.

Open Men’s Division – Levi Stewart (Ngati Awa)
Open Women’s Division – Natasha Gouldsbury (Te Atiawa)

Under 18 Boys Division – Navryn Malone (Mahaki)
Under 18 Girls Division – Natasha Gouldsbury (Te Atiawa)

Under 16 Boys Division – Tai Murphy (Ngati Awa)

Under 14 Boys Division – Zeke Pragert (Ngati Porou)
Under 14 Girls Division – Indi-Lee Ruddell (Te Atiawa)

Over 35 Men’s Division – Chris Malone (Mahaki)
Over 45 Men’s Division – Chris Malone (Mahaki)

Womens Longboard- Natasha Gouldsbury (Te Atiawa)
Longboard Division – Zen Wallis (Nga Puhi)
Stand Up Paddleboard Division – Regan Fairlie (Ngati Porou)

For more information on the 2023 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles, 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 2023 Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles would not be possible without support from Northland Inc, Puhi Te Aewa, Dropin surf and supply, Te Rarawa Kaiwhare, Sticky Johnson and Surfing New Zealand.

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