Hours of travelling and dedicated training paid off big-time for Te Kawa siblings Gemma and Zac Green at the full contact New Zealand Kyokushin Karate Nationals in Huntly.

Gemma (13) won the girls' 12-13 years, under-65kg weight category and Zac (just turned 10) took out the 8-9 year boys' under-40kg division.

It was a remarkable turnaround of fortune for Gemma after being well beaten when making her one and only previous appearance at nationals three years ago.

The young teenager upstaged both her opponents from dojos in Wellington, recording back-to-back dominant victories to claim the title.


A break from the martial art to get over the disappointment of 2015 proved just the tonic Gemma needed.

She has come back with a vengeance, her first up national experience making her even more determined to get the job done this time.

"Winning a national title makes all our twice-weekly trips to the Te Kuiti Kyokushin Karate Club for training worthwhile," she said.

"I'm pleased to win, especially for my coach (Rachael Hopper) and mum and dad (Clinton and Laura) our number one supporters."

Hopper said Gemma had so much more power and strength than the other girls she fought against.

"She was also one of the few kids I had at Huntly who took notice if I said something on the sideline. Gemma was one point down at one stage and we changed things up and she went on to win."

Zac was without peer in his age group, winning all his four fights emphatically, including the final against an opponent from Huntly's Rahui Pokeka Kyokushin Club.

"Zac was amazing," said coach Hopper.


"He was one of the smallest in his group but his technique was very good.

"He knew where to hit to inflict pain on his opposition and did what he had to do to win."

It was national title number two for Zac, having won the 6-7 age group in Wellington in 2016 when fighting out of the Kihikihi dojo, coached by Kevin Maber.

In his three years at Kihikihi, Zac scooped all three major titles, Nationals, Waikato Champs and Northern Zone Champs in Auckland.

The Greens switched their allegiance from Kihikihi club to Te Kuiti purely to fit around rugby, a sport all four of their boys play.

Their mother Laura was keen for her children to take up karate, having enjoyed the experience of being an active Kihikihi club member through to her teenage years.

Hopper and her daughter, Candice Bader, who won the national 10-11 year girls' title at Huntly, are also former members of Kihikihi club.

Hopper helped Maber out training up the children before moving to Te Kuiti last year to set up her own dojo.

She has 25 to 30 students attending each class in Te Kuiti. Her team won four national titles and had three runners-up at the 2018 national championships.

Next tournament is the Northern Zone Champs in Auckland in November. The Greens will have four family members competing, Gemma and Zac, older brother Cody (12) and Jak (8).