National | Gisborne

Brothers fulfill whānau surf lifesaving legacy

Two Māori brothers are following a whānau surf lifesaving legacy, dominating their Ironman finals in NZ’s biggest surf lifesaving championships.

Older brother Luther Maxwell made both finals in the Under 19s and Opens and Sterling Maxwell made the Under 16s.

Their races consisted of board race, ski paddling and swimming, amongst a classy outfit of New Zealand’s toughest competitors converging on Gisborne for the TSB Surf Lifesaving National Championships.

Luther had to endure back-to-back finals in the Under 19s and debuting in the Opens in order to complete his races.

“It’s hard to win when you’re tired,” Luther says.

However, it was in his Under 19s race that Luther took out second place in the Ironman. Meanwhile, younger brother Sterling made top 5 in the Under 16s finals.

Both brothers are carrying on a legacy established by their two older siblings, Tyler Maxwell and bronze medalist Karly Maxwell. They are former finalists in the national surf lifesaving competition that sees more than 1,400 competitors nationwide compete in the annual event.

“We’re a tight family, we love the sport and yeah it’s good having them here.”

Surf Lifesaving was introduced into the whānau by their mother Tui Maxwell, who almost drowned at Midway Beach in Gisborne as a child. Their father Walter was already a gun swimmer. The two ultimately invested all their time into getting their six kids into the sport.

A key reason for this was to keep their children safe in the water, with Māori accounting for 44% of all children under 5 years of age who drown.

Tui told Te Ao, “I want my kids to be confident and I don’t want them to drown. And if they do get into trouble, I want them to be able to not panic and that’s the great thing about this sport.”