Grins from ear to ear and competitive streaks were all on show for Te Arawa's inaugural Kaumātau Olympics yesterday.

After a quick powhiri, the games were opened and hilarity ensued as kaumātua played everything from giant Jenga to Connect Four.

Close to 250 kaumātua battled it out in the Energy Events Centre hoping it would be their ropu taking home the winning trophy after a series of cognitive, light cardio and strength games.

Thanks Eraia Kiel & the team from Te Puia for our amazing ti rakau and trophies ❤️

Posted by Te Arawa Kaumātua Olympics on Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The event graced Rotorua after a successful campaign by the Ōranga Tinana o Ue kaumātua group late last year. The national kaumātua Olympic event has been going for over 10 years and this year marks the 15th national gathering.


Group spokesperson and co-ordinator Dr Laurie Morrison said it was fantastic to see the smiles on the kaumātuas' face, although there was competitive streak in there as well.

"We had 28 teams register their interest but we could only take 23. It is a fabulous event for Māori and non-Māori to get together and whakawhanaungatanga.

"I think it is so popular because Māori love to get together and it is about revisiting when we used to have marae games."

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu, Rotorua Boys' and Girls' and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamata students were volunteering to support the games.

Harold Hunt rounded up the Rotorua East Bowling Club to form a team. While there was hesitancy at the start from the pakeha members, Hunt said they have since realised the event wasn't exclusive for Māori.

"It's the best decision we have ever made. It's all about whanauatanga, the atmosphere has been amazing. And it is so nice to see these roopu from outside Rotorua."

Maramata Smith from Raukawa Kaumātua Ora said it was the people who made the event enjoyable.

"It's a loving crowd, everyone is taking care of everybody. We're clapping for the opposition and pushing them harder. We're having such a good time we forget it's a competition."


Mayor Steve Chadwick spoke at the powhiri of how all the kaumātua in attendance were inspiring with their willingness to give anything a go.

"You're so well connected, fit and healthy. Thank you for your encouragement."