As New Zealanders get set to vacate the cities and head off for Labour Weekend tomorrow, Maori surfers from around the country will converge on Taranaki for the 2018 Bayleys Real Estate Aotearoa Maori Titles which take place on Saturday and Sunday (20-21 October).

It is set to be a stunning weekend of weather as a big high-pressure system pushes over New Zealand bringing unseasonably warm temperatures.  A good pulse for swell is forecast to march up the West Coast from under New Zealand.

For a third straight year, the prestigious Aotearoa Maori Titles will be staged along the striking Taranaki coastline.

Surfers from Northland through to Canterbury and the West Coast have confirmed their entries as well as a strong base of local surfers who will look to wrestle back the Iwi Trophy from Bay of Plenty-based Ngati Ranginui.

While defending champion Kehu Butler (Mnt) has had to return to Australia to prepare for international events, a solid field of surfers has emerged looking to take his title.

New Zealand representative Levi Stewart (Waihi Beach) will lead the way for the Open Men’s Division.  Stewart goes into the weekend as the number one seed.  He sits in second overall on the New Zealand Surf Series and represented New Zealand at the World Surfing Games in Japan last month helping the team to ninth place overall.

Stewart is joined by the likes of Raglan surfers Chris Malone and Josef Jungwirth as well as Kaikoura surfer Alan Te Moananui.  Local surfers competing this weekend include Dwaine Mataa, Conan James, Sonny Rapira – Martin and Eli MacDonald.

Zhana Hutchieson has returned from Australia to defend her title in the Open Women’s Division.  Hutchieson has spent the last six month surfing across the ditch but returns to her home waters looking for a third straight title.

This year Hutchieson will be challenged by another up and coming young local surfer in Natasha Gouldsbury.  Gouldsbury recently claimed the Under 14 Girls Division title at the National Scholastic Surfing Championships as did Raglan’s Brie Bennett who won the Under 16 Girls Division which sets up a good battle this weekend.

On top of the immense talent within New Zealand’s top surfers, the Bayleys Real Estate Aotearoa Maori Titles offers up an opportunity for Maori surfers to take part in a relaxed event, meet other surfers from around our coastline and connect with the Maori community – an aspect of the event that is equal if not more important than the titles themselves.

The powhiri will be held at 6:00pm on Friday evening at Owae Marae, Waitara to welcome all manuhiri. Surfing action at the event will get underway from 8:00am on Saturday morning subject to conditions.  The poroporoake will take place on Sunday afternoon at Owae Marae.

Please see below for defending champions from the 2017 Aotearoa Maori Titles presented by Evitan Events.

Open Men’s Division – Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Open Women’s Division – Zhana Hutchieson (Te Atiawa)
Under 18 Boys Division – Kehu Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Under 18 Girls Division – Brie Bennett (Tainui)
Under 16 Boys Division – Josef Jungwirth (Ngati Ranginui)
Under 14 Boys Division – Jayden Willoughby (Nga Puhi)
Over 35 Men’s Division – Khan Butler (Ngai Te Rangi)
Over 45 Men’s Division
– Pipi Ngaia (Te Atiawa)
Longboard Division
– Jamie Andrews (Te Atiawa)
Stand Up Paddleboard Division – Geoff Pardoe (Ngati Porou)
Amateur – Patrick Kilmister (Te Atiawa)

Information
For more information on the 2018 Bayleys Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles, please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

Partners
The 2018 Bayleys Real Estate Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles would not be possible without support from hosts Waitara Bar Boardriders Club, Bayleys Real Estate, Beach Street Surf Shop, Water Safety New Zealand, Surfing Taranaki and Surfing New Zealand.

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The Surfing New Zealand event hotline is 0211134506. This will be updated daily at with venues, divisions contested and conditions.

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