Rākaumanga win third national Kī-o-rahi title

By James Perry

Huntly's Te Wharekura o Rākaumanga have regained the trophy after beating defending champions Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae in Hastings.

After finishing as runners-up to Ngā Tapuwae in the last two years, Rākaumanga managed to get one over their rivals, 13-11, in the final today.

Played in a cold wind, the final went back and forth, with neither side allowing the other to run away with the score. 

Te Ohomauri Rapana, of Rākaumanga, says the team were slightly worried in the early stages of the match because Ngā Tapuwae were effective at ripping their tags, which he says is one of their real strengths.

Rāpana says the previous years have been tough because the games were close, but says this year they're really happy they've been able to win.

While they weren't able to walk away with their third consecutive title, Ngā Tapuwae co-captains Atakura Savage and Jean-Luc Honetana were happy with the way their team played throughout the tournament.

Savage says the team really focused on playing their own game in their own style and not be drawn into what anyone else was doing.

The title is Rākaumanga's third, taking them one ahead of Ngā Tapuwae and Gisborne Boys' and Girls' High Schools, making them the most successful school at this tournament.

However Rapana says they don't see it that way and believes no school is better than another.  They've simply been lucky to win it three times.

The victory is timely for Rākaumanga, as some of them are headed to Auckland Airport tomorrow as they make their way to the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hawaii.

Rāpana says those who are going to Hawaii can go feeling happy and enjoy their time overseas.

The tournament concluded with the handing over of the mauri to Te Tai Tokerau, where Rākaumanga will be defending their trophy.