Arataki Sports Big Mike Memorial 10s was held for the fourth year in a positive, vibrant atmosphere at Grenada Park on Saturday.
The tournament honours the memory of Michael Rawiri who was in his fourth term as the club's president and a life member when he died in 2013. If ever one man personified a community, he did and his passing is still felt deeply throughout the wider Arataki area.
His son Mickel reflected on what the day meant to his whanau and the club.
"Our family are quite involved in the Arataki club still. I am the Arataki junior rugby co-ordinator and still play in the prems and my family are still part of the committee. It is to do with my dad. He was special to this club," Rawiri said.
"It is good to see the teams come back every year. The vibe around here is good. It has been set out very well here and I think it will continue to grow. Dad would be really proud. It is something that will keep his name alive for many years and hopefully my kids will play in it."
Home team Arataki came closest to knocking out runaway Cup winners Te Puna, falling short 12-7 in a pulsating semifinal that had the big crowd packed on the sidelines living every play.
"It is always hard to lose especially when it is your dad's tourney but the thing that I loved about the game was the boys played their best game. We put our hearts and bodies on the line and it showed," Rawiri said.
"That was Te Puna's hardest game. They had been running away with every other game they played today so it was good to give them a good challenge. That is what I wanted from the boys. Not so much about the result but how we performed. I am proud of how the boys went."
Te Puna co-captain Hamish Boyce gave credit to Arataki for their performance in that epic semifinal.
"They always front up for their home tournament and the Big Mike trophy. It is always a tough game and they came out and took it to us. They were real confrontational which is what we haven't had and they knocked us off our game a bit. It was an awesome game by them."
Boyce was delighted to win back-to-back tournaments after Te Puna took out their own Vaughan Kuka Memorial 10s last weekend.
They made no race of the final, winning 36-14 over a disappointing Mount Maunganui side.
"I am most happy with all the young fellers putting their hand up. We had some new guys play that didn't play last week and at this time of the year it is awesome to see everyone wanting to play and do well," Boyce said.
"The club is in good stead at the moment going forward. People like AK [Aidan Kuka] behind the scenes have done a heap of work and we all take pride in our work because the whole community is behind us."
As the crowds dispersed and the celebrations began on Saturday evening, some sweet reggae music drifted across Grenada Park. It was a fitting end to a special day on the rugby calendar.
■Big Mike's Memorial 10's Tournament
2018 Men's Cup Winner — Te Puna
Cup Runners-Up — Mount Maunganui
2018 Women's Cup Winner — Rangiuru
Cup Runners-Up — Arataki
Men's Plate Winner — Inside Running Academy
Women's Plate Winner — Rangataua