Young Māori surfers ride to world champs

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Four young Māori surfers are on their way to Huntington Beach, California, to represent Aotearoa in the World Junior Surfing Championships.

Representing the NZU18 team, Kea Smith (Ngāti Ranginui) says, “Yeah I'm real excited.  My whole whānau is coming over with me, there's seven of us plus my mum's sister, so we've got a big group of us going over together- should be real good fun.”

14-year-old Kora Cooper (Ngāi Tai) has taken out the U16 division at the National Scholastic Surfing Championships, now he wants to make a career out of it.

“I want to be a professional surfer because I like doing what I love and travelling the world to surf awesome waves and just start to do more QS's and looking forward to going into the World ISA Games,” says Cooper.

Coaching a new generation of Māori surfers, NZ surfing legend Daniel Kereopa says it's a chance for them to decide if they want to take on the professional lifestyle or not.

“In the magazines and on TV it's a beautiful life but it's like any professional sport it's tough, there's losses, there's contracts, there's negotiations and you don't always have your friends around so it's something for them to work through,” says Kereopa.

Heading to the world champs, NZU16 representative Myka Black (Tainui) says, “At the moment I just like having fun but you never know, might want to take it further, might not."

Brie Bennett (Tainui) has taken out the U16 division at the National Scholastic Surfing Championships and she's excited to test her skills on the world stage with the NZU16 squad.

“I'm quite nervous because it's one of my first international competitions and it's quite a big comp, but most importantly I just want to make NZ proud and be able to go again,” says Bennett.

The World Junior Surfing Championship starts on the 27th of October in California.