Meet Perseus Ngapera: The Weet-Bix kid ‘kickstarting’ his reo Māori journey and first Kids TRYathlon

Hawke’s Bay 11-year-old Perseus Ngapera (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi) is confident he will have lots of whānau support when he takes part in his first Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon in Hastings in February.

“Yep, yep.”

“Oh, they’re all good. They want me to do it,” says Perseus, who is named after a hero of Greek mythology.

”I just love Greek mythology,” says mum Tess Rollinson (Ngāti Kahungunu).

The Napier youngster loves rugby and basketball.

“If I had to pick, straight up number one would be rugby. But second one would be basketball.”

“I play wing but I want to change my position to first-five.”

Perseus (pronounced Per-say-us by his whānau) has got iwi basketball over the summer holidays in Rotorua in January.

“I’ll probably just hang out, mostly. I’ve got a basketball tournament - Ngāti Kahungunu Māori basketball tournament. But other than that, probably just hang out because it’s going to be a really hot summer.”

Perseus has even had a go at martial arts in the past.

“I didn’t really like it - but if I had no choice at all, I’d have to do it,” he says, making his mum laugh.

He’s a “pretty fast” winger, says Tess, with Perseus shaping up to be doubly fast in his favourite TRY event, cycling, thanks to his trusty mountain bike.

“It’s this green one. It’s fast.”

Perseus was originally down to do his first TRYathlon earlier this year, along with hundreds of other six to 15-year-old Hawke’s Bay kids, but couldn’t due to Cyclone Gabrielle.

“I was ok, I didn’t know what I was going to do at the start [of the year]. It’s good that I know what I’m going to do now.”

Quietly confident, Perseus is keen to take part as an individual in the fun day out for kids of all sporting abilities, although it’s possible to enter as part of a team of two.

“I want to go by myself,” he says.

“They did come and scout out his kura that he’s just finished up at,” says Tess. “So I’m quite confident there’ll probably be a few enrolments from that.”

And to back up the fun nature of the TRYathlon that’s designed to help kids stay active and healthy through participation, Perseus hasn’t quite gotten around to training just yet.

“Nah, I don’t need to start any training because I’m fit. Sport keeps me fit.”

Weet-Bix ambassador

“Hey you’re on the Weet-Bix box, that’s pretty cool.”

“Yeah, I know,” Perseus says to laughter.

It’s been an exciting past few months for Perseus and his whānau. Take a closer look at the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon cereal packs on supermarket shelves and one of the tamariki smiling back at you is none other than Perseus.

He says his friends and whānau think it’s pretty neat.

“They just think it’s pretty cool for me to be on the Weet-Bix box.”

“My mum just signed me up on Facebook and Instagram and I got picked out of thousands of kids around New Zealand.”

“There was an advertisement out and we just registered him,” says Tess.

“Yeah, we just added a photo to it and I got lucky, chosen,” adds Perseus.

“Could you even believe it?”

“Yeah, I believed it,” Perseus says to more laughter.

‘Kickstarting’ a Te Reo journey

Perseus is a big brother to five-year-old and almost one-year-old siblings on his mum’s side of the family and is “the baby” of his dad’s whānau, where he has three teenage siblings aged 15, 18 and 19.

“My mum’s family I’m the oldest and my dad’s family I’m the youngest.”

Some of Perseus’ siblings have been able to learn te reo but his own exciting journey is really just getting kickstarted.

“My younger babies their pāpā has been raised in te ao Māori so they’ve gone through kōhanga reo and all the kura - but Perseus not so much,” says Tess.

“I tried to get him into kura kaupapa Māori, he’s going to intermediate next year, but he doesn’t have enough reo behind him - which is ka pai, I understand.

“But we have a mainstream intermediate here in Napier, it will be their first time next year kickstarting a rumaki reo class - and Perseus has secured a spot.

“So that’s him starting next year,” Tess says proudly.

Proud Māmā

“Oh yeah, I’m super proud - not for the fact that necessarily he’s been publicised or anything like that - but more so that in anything that he ever applies himself to he just really gives his all and tries his hardest,” says Tess.

“He’s quite modest in nature generally but he’s a real go-getter in anything that he seems to want to do and pour his time into. He just gives it his absolute all.

“As a māmā, I think that’s all you ever want for your tamariki, so that they can embrace opportunities that come their way and just really put their best foot forward so that they are excelling in whatever they choose to do,” she says.

Tess says it’s beautiful to see tamarki Māori shine.

“They have this ability about them in this era to just ooze that natural confidence. I see it a lot more and it’s a beautiful sight.”

Before he ducked off to go play, Perseus said he was really looking forward to Christmas.

“For Christmas, we’ll get presents, Santa comes that night.

“On Christmas Day, we’ll stay at home in the morning and go to koro’s for lunch.”