The highly anticipated Te Arawa games have started, bringing more than 1000 people together for a weekend of sports, fun and friendly rivalry.

The annual event is being hosted for the first time by Ngati Rangiwewehi and will be held at both Ngongotaha Primary School and Tarimano Marae.

Te Papa Takaro o Te Arawa event manager Stephen Te Moni said the overarching idea to the games was "celebrating who we are as an iwi".

"Ultimately we are there to celebrate Te Arawa whakapapa, the genealogy and the networking of our people. Te Arawa collectively have values and principles that underpin what Te Arawa believe, how Te Arawa behave and what is expected. We want to be able to bring those ethics and good morals to the table when playing mainstream sports - hold people more accountable for how they play and interact."


As well as mainstream sports such as touch rugby, netball, tennis, table-tennis and golf, this year, tamariki triathlon has been added as there has been a huge interest and backing from parents. Other new additions are a number of Polynesian ancestral games which have been brought back from Tahiti.

They will be played at Tarimano Marae tomorrow.

"Some of the ancestral games brought back from Tahiti include rock lifting, spear throwing and the weighted log run. There's some exciting games coming up and they offer people the chance to try something new and get involved," Mr Te Moni said.

Ngati Rangiwewehi trust board member Erin Thompson-Pou said they were excited to be hosting the games.

"This is the first time Rangiwewehi has hosted the games. We put our hand up for it this year because we thought it was about time we did it."

She said she enjoyed the event every year, even when it incited in-house rivalry.

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"People definitely get competitive with it, even my husband and I start a bit of friendly rivalry as to who is going to win because we are from different marae - it's all in good spirit though."

Mrs Thompson-Pou said the games differed every year and she was looking forward to seeing what this year's event had in store.