The original Waikato Maniapoto Tane team who played at their first tournament in Palmerston North 1995. Back row: Peter McIntyre, Phil McConnell, Jamie Ward, Bryan Winiata, David Matahaere. Front row: Aaron Buist, Shane Vi, Nick Pirihi, Clinton Smith, Lance Roberts, Scott Woolf
Waikato Maniapoto have been involved with the National Maori Hockey Tournament since its inaugural tournament in 1992 in Ahuriri (Napier). That year, Waikato Maniapoto sent a Wahine team to represent our rohe.
Whilst no teams were sent the following two years, in 1995, Aaron Buist and his mother, Kay, launched the beginning of the Tane team that has been represented at nearly every single tournament since.
A team of primarily social grade and high school players and with only one Premier player in the team, Waikato Maniapoto performed well above all expectations – being the only team to push the dominant representative filled Tamaki Makaurau and nearly caused a celebrated upset at the tournament in Palmerston North. Thus establishing a tradition of expectation that has followed the team since of being a team to watch at the national tournament.
A few years later, the Wahine team re-entered the National Maori Hockey tournament and have consistently attended to compete at the national tournament alongside the Tane team. Since those early years, the calibre of player that has been attracted to the teams has strengthened considerably. We now boast a strong contingent of NHL players and have included players whom have represented the Black Sticks in their hockey careers play for Waikato Maniapoto at the national tournament.
Though it took a few years to realise those early expectations, from 2000, Waikato Maniapoto Tane have been a serious contender for the national title being in the majority of the finals over the last decade, winning national honours in 2009 and sharing the honours in 2012.
In 2015, Waikato Maniapoto had its strongest result for the Wahine team making the final but ultimately losing out to tournament hosts Te Tai Tokerau 3-1 in a tough encounter.
Waikato Maniapoto are now looking to evolve and work on building a strong development programme for Maori youth in hockey within our rohe to help develop a strong base of participation as well as provide an alternative pathway for Maori hockey players to develop their skills. This focus will help our rohe push for the long term sustainability of a highly competitive and successful Waikato Maniapoto rohe with a view to fostering meaningful Maori participation in hockey.