Sport | Māori Rugby

Putting aside silt-covered gumboots and putting on rugby boots - Ngāti Kahungunu iwi chair

A month on from the cyclone that struck the country, Ngāti Kahungunu is looking to regain some sense of normality with the return of Te Wero on its 50th anniversary.

“This weekend we could put aside our gumboots and grab our rugby boots for a little while," Ngāti Kahungunu chair - and competitor - Bayden Barber says. "It was joyous, and a brief respite for everyone watching.

"More than 600 people flocked to the field to watch the tournament. It was a good day, the sun was shining it was great.”

Te Wero has been a benchmark for the Hawke's Bay calendar every year, being the kickstarter to the rugby season, and for the past 50 years has been a playground for six Māori clubs to compete to see who holds bragging rights over the others. Barber says it is a prestigious event.

Celebration of whakapapa

“It is a time to remember those who have passed on, and a celebration of Māori clubs and whakapapa that connects us all. So it is a time to bring up those discussions and those connections between each other, all Māori clubs in Ngāti Kahungunu.”

In 1973 Te Mahia Rugby Football club was the inaugural winner of Te Wero, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary Te Mahia again rose to greatness, alongside their competition, Bridge Pā, drawing at 24 all. However, with the roads still closed north of Napier, there was a bit of a laugh between the clubs on the performance for the northernmost region of Ngāti Kahungunu.

“Asks for support reached out to everyone, friends, cousins first, second and third from other teams, to fill the boots of those who weren't able to make it this year. But it was good. It was good seeing the tournament reach 50 years and everyone was pumped to play.”

Barber says although this was a return to some sense of normality there is still a lot of work ahead to repairing the towns affected by the floods.