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Composite side outgun Tairawhiti in opener

The National Maori hockey tournament started in Gisborne last night with a hard-fought and entertaining encounter between a Tairawhiti men’s team and a Nga Hau e Wha composite side.

Nga Hau e Wha won 4-2.

This is the first time the tournament has been staged in Tairawhiti since 1994.

The 16 teams competing represent Taitokerau (Northland), Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland), Waikato (Hamilton), Waiariki (Rotorua, Tauranga, Whakatane, BOP), Aotea (Taranaki/Manawatu), Tairawhiti (Gisborne), Takitimu (Wellington/Hawkes Bay) and Te Waipounamu (South Island).

“It was mate against mate in the opening game last night,” said local hockey commentator Tony Scragg.

“Hanoa Morete (a THC club player and coach of Gisborne Boys’ High), coached Nga Hau e Wha and he would have been very happy with that 4-2 result.”

Tairawhiti team led by a goal early on but NHEW equalised and the sides went into halftime locked 1-all.

“Nga Hau e Wha took the lead early in the second half and never surrendered it,” Scragg said.

“It was a really good game of hockey to start what’s going to be a full-on, action-packed weekend.”

Tairawhiti has three teams involved — Tairawhiti men, the composite team and Tairawhiti women.

A powhiri for the visiting players and their supporters was held at Harry Barker Reserve at 7.30am today.

“It was amazing and quite moving,” Scragg said.

Tairawhiti women started their campaign this morning with an 8-0 whitewash of Waikato.

Maika Akroyd opened the scoring, captain Courtney Onekawa grabbed a hat-trick, Tony Halley a double and there was a goal apiece to Lucy McHugh and Julie Mulligan.

Onekawa said it was a great start to the tournament. She was pleased the team were able to complete their game plan and they were looking forward to the rest of the tournament.

“The strength of Maori hockey from that first game was really strong and Waikato really pushed us,” she said, despite the scoreline.

The tournament rolls through with continuous games today and tomorrow, then semifinals and some positional finals on Sunday, and more finals on Monday.

“Talking to the visitors, they are looking forward to some great Gisborne weather and playing on our amazing Property Brokers Turf.”