Happy Volunteer Week!

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, we’re giving a little love to all of the amazing sport volunteers who make sport happen in our region. No matter how big or small of a role you play in volunteering your time, it all counts to teams and individuals having the opportunity to play a sport.

We’ve profiled five incredible volunteers without whom our sport system would be at a great loss.

Amoe & Trish

Amoe Tarsau and Trish Hina

Amoe Tarsau and Trish Hina have volunteered for Women’s Rugby for 6+ years in roles of coaching, administration, fundraising and washing uniforms. These ladies go the extra mile by picking up and dropping off their development team in the morning and afternoon, for gym workouts and speed training. Both are instrumental in organising amazing rugby opportunities for the girls.

The passion and drive they exhibit for their sport is inspiring, and can be seen rubbing off on our young ladies, in their developing their rugby talents.

John Scott

John Scott

John Scott has volunteered in triathlon for 35 odd years, in a number of roles including club chair, manager and most prominently, coach. John dedicates countless hours and energy to the growth of triathlon in Tairawhiti, and the growth of the athletes that drive it.

When we asked his most treasured memory from his time as a volunteer, he was quick to recall the performance of the ‘gizzy kids’ at the 2014 National Triathlon Champs in Gisborne. He said, “the kids approached the event with great spirit and motivation, and turned heads with their strong performances.”

John’s incredibly passionate about helping kids to develop as athletes and people in his coaching. He commented, “there’s so much athletic potential in Tairawhiti, and the opportunity to help these athletes reach their dreams is what motivates me as a coach.”

Walton WalkerWalton Walker

Walton Walker has been volunteering in Softball for an impressive span of 50 years, and in Waka Ama over a decade. His volunteering has been fuelled by his passion for the sports. As a softball player, Walton was a consistent pitcher who even today, rattles some of Gisborne’s best batters.

Walton has served over his time involved with sports, as the Treasuer, secretary and the last 10 years as President of Tairawhiti Softball Association. In his role as a coach, his calm assured demeanor, and knowledge of the game creates a force which players respond to.

When asked what motivates Walton, he responded: “The motivation for me is seeing people, especially youth, having the opportunity to experience things they may not otherwise get to do. With sport, its playing with your mates, enjoying yourself, meeting new people, going to national tournaments, winning or losing, winning a gold, a silver or even getting to the finals, let-a-lone just getting there and participating. If everything out front is going well then everything in the back must be operating well. I might be out the front man for the organisations I belong to but my work is in the back making sure things are ticking along”.

His memories are “all good memories, I don’t regret a moment of anything I have done in my voluntary experiences”.

Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen has been involved with the Gisborne Netball Centre since 1993. She has filled a huge number of roles over her years with the Centre which started out with her acting as a Trophy Steward. Other ​​roles have included: Tower duty, Timekeeper, Referee, Coach, Manager, Board member, Official – in fact, Julie has filled so many roles, it would fill a page. ‘Aunty Jules’ is an integral part of the GNC competition coordination. She is great at coordinating the duties on a Saturday and takes pride in the cleanliness of the pavillion and courts. Julie is always approachable and an amazing communicator with members of all of our clubs.

Julie’s motivation for volunteering is: “Netball is my 1st love. I love the game, and I love the people I’ve met. So many wonderful people, many of those I consider my life-long friends”.

A special memory when asked was “1995 was a crazy year. I was a couple of years into my time on the Netball Committee. I coached 4 teams, and also managed the 1995 Gisborne U21 Rep team who went to National Champs in Christchurch, and won their division. It was such a thrill being with the team.”

Sonia Keepa

Sonia Keepa

What motivates Sonia? “In our busy lives for me to be able to give back in a real and meaningful way is something very special. I am motivated to share my knowledge and experiences, to pass on what I have learnt to others to help them be better, more confident and able to fully enjoy the ocean. Being involved with Surf Life Saving, especially at a Junior Development level, is so hugely motivating – to share the joy when a skill is mastered or watch as fear is overcome is simply inspiring. I love interacting and building relationships with members of our community through the connection of teaching our young children essentially life saving skills.

A share memory of Sonia’s: “The moments that stands out the most and gives me great joy, is when that new participant at the beginning of summer who has so much fear of the ocean, doesn’t even want to step on the wet sand, but turns into the child who is the last one out of the sea by the end of the summer”.

Sonia Keepa has played a major part in the successful running of the Wainui Surf Lifesaving Club for 10+ years. This involvement has included many varied positions where she has been on the Committee, Coached Nippers, Beach Education Instructor, Surf Lifeguard, managed various areas of the club such as coordinating coaching programmes, etc, etc. Sonia constantly goes above and beyond her call of duty, and is a dedicated volunteer and member not only locally, but also regionally where she has attended various courses in leadership, and coaching, and sits on the Regional Gisborne Junior Surf Committee.

Sustainability in the current sporting landscape

Many Tairawhiti sports clubs are looking for new and innovative ways to remain sustainable in a climate where funding club assets presents a great challenge. Years ago, these clubs could fund their buildings and equipment through high membership numbers, bar revenue and community events. However today, there’s greater competition from other clubs and sports, and less opportunity for fundraising. To ease the financial burden of maintaining facilities, a number of clubs are now partnering with other sports in shared facilities to remain financially viable.

The Gisborne Harriers Club own and operate a well-equipped club rooms in Innes Street, in the Gisborne industrial subdivision. This facility is underutilised and the club would welcome other sports clubs or community organisations to share the facility and share some of the costs. The clubrooms is some 200 square metres in size, and has kitchen, changing room and shower facilities, as well as tables and chairs. The club is looking for longer term arrangements. If interested please contact Hans van Kregten on 0274474560 or

iCoach is here!

This winter, every primary school football coach will have the tools they need to become a super-coach. Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti’s latest project, iCoach ensures that every coach has as much fun as their players.

iCoach is a series of ten instructional coaching videos created in conjunction with Central Football and Sport New Zealand, that are free and available on our website. The videos are aimed at parents who are new to coaching football, and provide tips, warm-ups and games for each week of training.

As Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti Coaching Advisor Ray Noble commented, “each video is five-minutes long, and provides the coach with a warmup and skill game to play with their team. Because they’re short and mobile-friendly, they’re perfect for busy parents who would otherwise struggle to plan their trainings ahead of time.”

Central Football CEO John McGifford remarked that the videos “provide a wonderful introduction for coaching at a junior level. This is set to be a most useful aid for coach development at an elementary level, development that will flow through for the betterment and increased enjoyment of players in the game.” As Karen Laurie of Sport New Zealand agreed, “Focussing on fun and building confidence around being active in the early years supports all New Zealanders to be motivated, competent and confident to choose being active for life.”

The videos focus on the ‘how to’ of coaching 5-7 year olds, and each weekly video aims to develop a different coaching skill, such as communication, philosophy and engagement. “Now, anyone can coach junior football. All you need is a little spare time and means of viewing our website,” said Mr. Noble.

Mr Noble continued, “Our vision is that every coach utilises this free resource, and has a great season. Then with any luck, they and their players will come back next year.”
To view the videos online, visit

Ricardo Christie making waves in his requalification Campaign

Ricardo ChristieRicardo Christie’s requalification campaign is off to a flying start, after winning the Martinique Pro last week in perfect, 3 to 4 foot waves.

The Mahia native qualified for the Championship Tour (CT) back in 2015. But during his season among the world’s best, he made it past the treacherous second round only three times. His best result was a quarterfinal finish in Brazil. He was not able to requalify, and returned to the Qualifying Series (QS) to work his way back.


Christie was under pressure early on, as his opponent had already put two decent scores on the board. But then the Kiwi started on a bomb and went all-out, risking everything on two super-critical turns for an 8.83 and ultimately, the big win.

“When the waves are like that you can forget everything and just go out there and surf,” he said. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot, I’ve just been working really hard and I learned a lot when I was on tour. It doesn’t feel like it’s over, it’s just the beginning of the year so I just have to keep doing my thing.”

In the Final, Christie was facing one of the best QS surfers there is, Bino Lopes. Lopes is the unlucky surfer who stood on the very edge of qualification last season, and saw the Championship Tour shut its door right in from of him, as he just missed the cutoff.


-World Surf League

Kaiya Huta on a mission to become the first Maori Olympic Trampolinist

Kaiya Huta

Tairawhiti Rising Legend Kaiya Huta is on a mission to become the world’s first Māori Olympic trampolinist. The 15 year-old took out the top medals at this weekend’s Trampoline Nationals. His next big goal is the 2018 Youth Olympics.

He’s the top trampolinist in NZ for his age grade. This year the Gisborne based teenager claimed gold in the synchronized tramp and silver in the double-mini tramp at Auckland’s Trampoline Nationals.

Kaiya Huta (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou) says, “When you’re on the tramp it’s just your moment.”

What was an afterschool hobby is now a passion for Kaiya. After choosing between a trampoline and a rugby ball at the age of nine, Kaiya’s sport of choice is one he hasn’t regretted, winning multiple domestic and world medals over the years.

Huta says, “I’ve been to four Australia nationals, I’ve won a lot there and I’ve been to South Africa for the Indo-Pacific games. Came second and I’ve been to the Worlds in Denmark.”

Doug Callahan (Coach) says, “He coaches for me and the kids look up to him and he’s really good to train.”

The TKKM o Ngā Uri a Maui student says although there are not many Māori trampolinist, he hopes to become the first Māori Olympic trampolinist.

Huta says, “Like 2020 is to go to the Olympics in Japan, yeah that’s my real goal. Be the first Māori to go to the Olympics.”

Callahan says, “If he puts the training in, and he does a lot of conditioning he will make it.”

But his big leap will be gaining entrance to the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

-Maori Television 

Barrett Homes NZ Open SUP and Longboarding Mt Maunganui

Stella Smith

The New Zealand Open SUP and Longboard event was run at Mt Maunganui over the weekend with five surfers from the Gisborne Boardriders Club making it to the event. Waves for the event were a reasonably contestable 1-2 feet and clean on day one and slightly larger on Sunday but very wind affected.

Gisborne’s most notable performance came from 14 year old Stella Smith (GBC) who totally dominated the Open Women’s SUP division winning with a total heat score of 16.30.
The other three finalists required a combination of scores to have a shot at the title. This big win comes hot on the heels of Smith’s NZ National Open Women’s SUP title she won at Piha in January.
There were no Junior events on offer in any division over the weekend so that left her competing in the Open Women’s SUP Smith’s only option.
Smith bagged more than a handful of prizes from Barrett Homes, the major sponsor of the event including a $50.00 bottle of Makaraka Reserve Pinot Noir wine of Chile.
Marguerite Vujcich (GBC) of Hawkes Bay travels to attend all Gisborne Boardriders events made the trip through to Mt Maunganui and competed in two divisions. Vujcich entered in the over 50 Longboard division where she competed with the men. Vujcich was unfortunately bundled out early in this event. Vujcich made up for the age group loss by making the Open Women’s Longboard final where she placed 4th.
Stella Smith’s father Gary Smith (GBC) competed in the Open Men’s SUP but was unfortunately out classed in round one finishing 3rd in his heat.
Fifteen year old Brie Ryan (GBC) was another junior competing in the Open Men’s Longboard division and was able to gather some valuable experience surfing against New Zealand’s top Longboarders. He performed well and was poised to progress through Round One in second place but within the final minute dropped to 3rd and was eliminated in round one.
Gisborne’s Development Manager Kelly Ryan was present and entered the Open Logger Division where competitors are only allowed to ride heavy single fin Longboards shaped in the traditional 1960’s style.
Ryan placed third overall and was pleased with the way Gisborne performed.
“To have three out of five surfers make finals today is really encouraging. I know there are a lot of talented SUP and Longboard surfers locally who could have shaken things up over at the Mt, so it would be great to see a few more making the effort. Stella Smith has really put Gisborne, Women’s SUP and the sport of SUP on the map lately with her rise in performance and she is also dominant in other areas of surfing and Surflifesaving. I see a great future in kids who are multi talented board riders as I believe that’s where the sport will grow the most in the very near future.”
Look out from April 1st-9th when The Ultimate Waterman NZ begins here. The whole event is mobile and could end up right here in Gisborne especially given our wave quality at that time of year. The Ultimate Waterman is an event that combines a multitude of water craft including Longboard, Shortboard and SUP as local, national and international competitors vie for the Title of Ultimate Waterman NZ.