Sport NZ Ihi Aotearoa contingent in attendance at the 2023 Te Tohu Tākaro o Aotearoa. Photo credit: www.photosport.nz
Te Tohu Taakaro o Aotearoa, the 2023 Māori Sports Awards marked 33 years of celebrating outstanding sporting achievements on Saturday, in a spectacular display of Māori culture, te reo and tikanga. Held against the backdrop of Mauao, the event highlighted the remarkable contributions of Māori athletes, of all ages to the sporting world.
Kiingi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII was one of over 500 esteemed guests from across the Māori community, sporting codes and corporate sector.
Winners in 10 categories were announced, from sports administrator; umpire/referee; Paralympian; coach; team; junior and senior sportsman and woman; to world champions. The supreme award – the prestigious Albie Pryor Memorial Māori Sportsperson of the Year | Rongomaraeroa award, went to 19-year old world class swimmer and Ngāi Tahu descendant, Erika Fairweather. Leaving the crowd feeling inspired, Erika’s appreciation for her support team was a moment to be acknowledged. “Although swimming is an individual sport, we by no means do it alone. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me to get to where I am today. We are all winners tonight”, was the message Erika relayed in her acceptance speech.
Sport NZ – Ihi Aotearoa was proud to sponsor the Ngā Ika ā Whiro | Māori Sports Team of the Year award which was presented by Sport NZ Group board member and Te Taumata Māori Chairperson, Karen Vercoe to the winning recipients, Aotearoa Māori Women’s Fours team for Lawn Bowls.
Te Huinga Tākaro o Aotearoa, the National Māori Sport Authority and a Sport NZ – Ihi Aotearoa Mana Ōrite partner were first time sponsors of Te Maru ō Tūmatauenga | Māori Sports Coach of the Year award. The winning recipient was current Chiefs Rugby Head Coach and Ngāti Rangi descendant, Clayton McMillan.
The principal objectives of Te Tohu Tākaro o Aotearoa are to benefit the Māori community by promoting their sporting achievements, fostering young Māori sporting talent with sport and educational scholarships, and to embrace the cultural dimensions of te reo and tikanga Māori within their operations and activities. These were all evident in the vibrant display of cultural pride on Saturday evening, from the opening pōwhiri to the mesmerising performances by an array of Māori artists, featuring: Te Whānau o Te Maro Kapa Haka (Tauranga Intermediate School); Maisey Rika; Adam Whauwhau and 2 Mile Bay band.
The black-tie event was hosted by Whakaata Māori’s very own Tūmamao Harawira (Ngāpuhi) and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic and Silver Fern netballer, Erena Mikaere (Tūhourangi, Te Arawa) and was livestreamed on the MĀORI+ app. The awards are now available to watch on-demand on Whakaata Māori’s website.