Pukepuke whānau represent Rotorua at 2017 Special Olympics Summer Games

By Rahia Timutimu

Special Olympics Rotorua have sent a total of nine athletes to the National Summer Games – Special Olympics New Zealand.

It’s a competition that has attracted more than 3000 competitors competing in 11 different sports, which is held in Wellington this week.

Among the team from Rotorua are five members of the Pukepuke squad, including Lorraine Pukepuke and her daughter Keiha Pukepuke who coach the side. Lorraine also has a son, a niece and a grandson in the team, all with varying degrees of learning and intellectual disabilities.

“Having whānau in our team we can be tough with them, it's cool, and all the others accept us the same, they listen to what we have to say to them, they don't take the whānau members any different, as long as there's a balance, and have fun aye“ says Lorraine.

The family come from a sporting background and wanted to help by coaching this team. Lorraine has said it’s a challenge but the athletes have fun but are also serious competitors.

The side will compete for the remainder of this week at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie.