Teamwork sees Waiariki bring home gold

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Waiariki Māori Men's Hockey Team has taken out the National Māori Hockey Tournament for the third consecutive year, beating Tāmaki Makaurau in a penalty shoot-out.

“The foundation for our strategy is to play as a team, as a unit, as one, the brotherhood within this team, that's perhaps that secret ingredient in this team that saw us win.”

The rivalry Tāmaki and Wairiki stretches back over two decades and today it was in full flight, but as Mokonuiarangi Rangitauira points out, it's competition based on whanaungatanga.

“There's no other tournament like this, because of the Māori nature that is present throughout the competition, as well as the quality of hockey being played.”

Mokonuiarangi Rangitauira says Māori Hockey Tournament fosters an environment where younger players can flourish.

“We're fortunate to play under the likes of Tenga Rangitauira, Tūwharetoa Hapi, Connor Herewini, who have been big brothers for us the younger players, helping us play well in this competition.”

After a bit of back-and-forth and moments of brilliance, the men's final was locked up 2-2 at full-time.

“It was good, knowing that the boys were playing well, but when we reached that point of the match it was nerve-wracking thinking that the opposition might win.”

The game went into a penalty shoot-out, where five players from each team are selected to take the goalie on in a one-on-one. 

“We appointed those players to that task, the special five, they have the skills and the abilities to get us the win in that section of the match,” says Moko Rangitauira.

After being on equal points at the end of the shoot-out, it then went into a 'sudden-death' shoot out.

With an error from Tāmaki, Waiariki took it out, securing their 7th title.

The Māori tournament will be held in Wellington in 2020.