Tai Tokerau showed its hockey chops as both the Tane and Wāhine sides took out their divisions at the National Māori hockey tournament.
The Wāhine went through group play undefeated as their superior defence and fitness stood out. They were pushed in their semifinal, beating Tamaki Makaurau in sudden-death shootouts to book their finals spot.
There they took on Tairawhiti in what was a tight encounter.
Tai Tokerau got on the scoresheet early and held on to that lead for the majority of the contest with striker Tiana Currie and midfielders Jade McLeod and Alyx Pivac all performing strongly.
Tairawhiti fought back and in the last five minutes made a surge at Tai Tokerau's goal, piling the pressure.
However, they were denied conversions and circle penetration as Tai Tokerau's strong defensive unit helped secure a 3-2 victory.
Coach Vicki Gribble said it was off the field where Tai Tokerau set the tone.
"Our strength was in our culture off the field. The fact that our experienced players Jade and Alyx especially shared not just hockey, but life experiences with younger players actually made the difference on the field," she said.
Pivac applauded the grit of her teammates.
"We had an experienced midfield who provided stability and strength but we had no capped players this time," she said.
"What we did have was a team of players with a whole lot of manawa and in the end that's what it came down to."
Meanwhile the Tane side were just as dominant in the leadup to their final, going through pool play and the semifinal undefeated.
They lined up against Auckland side Tamaki Makaurau in a passionately fought final where cards given out reached double figures.
The match went right down to the wire, adding to the already palpable tension as a sudden-death shootout was required after standout performances from Bronson Baker and Liam Prime.
Tai Tokerau held their nerve to win the shootout 7-6 as Cameron Hellier converted the decisive goal while goalkeeper Adam Taylor came up with a good clutch save to deny Tamaki Makaurau.
Captain and coach Brad Pitman said the side made sure they knew their roles.
"We had an absence of ego in the team, we went away just wanting to do our best for each other and for our rohe," he said.
"It really was a situation of a champion team against a team of champions and I'm really proud to be a part of that."
Baker was awarded overall men's player of the tournament after strong performances throughout.
The national squads were named during the tournament with seven Tai Tokerau players making the grade.
NZ Juniors: Bronson Baker, Hamish McKechnie, Zach Litchfield, Tiana Currie, Casey Rapana
NZ Seniors: Bronson Baker, Hamish McKechnie, Zach Litchfield, Tiana Currie, Jade McLeod, Kendyll Peters