One of New Zealand's top darts players, Haupai Puha, will grace Northland's oches today as he competes in this weekend's Landmark Homes Midwinter Open.
The tournament, run by the Taniwha Darts Association at the Kamo Rugby Club, will feature men's and women's singles today and pairs tomorrow.
According to current Darts Players New Zealand (DPNZ) rankings, Puha is the best men's player in the country. True to his form, the 34-year-old was one of two players to represent New Zealand at the coveted World Cup of Darts in Germany in June.
Thanks to strong performances in recent competitions, Puha qualified for three televised World Series of Darts competitions where he will play against the world's best in Brisbane (August 9-10), Melbourne (August 16-17) and Hamilton (August 23-24).
This will be Puha's second appearance on the World Series circuit and he hoped Northland's marquee winter tournament would be good preparation for competitions to come.
"It's just quality games against quality players to try to get me ready," Puha said.
"I'm not playing any club darts and it's pretty hard to gauge where your practise is at, so I like to get into these tournaments and see what I need to work on."
Among a range of talented local players, Puha's road to the title will be challenged by fellow DPNZ ranked top five players, Ben Robb (2nd) and Craig Caldwell (4th).
Puha said the calibre of Robb and Caldwell along with other local players made winning any competition in New Zealand difficult.
"We always have good games, it's an arm wrestle and sometimes it comes down to a dart here or there, I lose to them as much as I beat them."
A roofer by trade, Puha moved from Christchurch to Auckland six months ago which is why he was able to enter in the Northland competition. With a wife and three children to consider, Puha hoped his recent rise in form would allow him to go further in the coming televised events.
"It's the ultimate test of your game so I just want to work on my lines and my action so I can see it when it's under the greatest amount of pressure.
"I don't know what it is at the moment, it's just working and I'm just riding the wave. Every time I go to a tournament, I feel like I'm going to be in the mix to try and win it."
Play starts at the Kamo Rugby Club at 9.30am today. For more information, visit the Taniwha Darts Association Facebook page.