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No. 26 (March 1959)
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Miss A. Emery from Hamilton, and Miss Ruia Morrison receive a cup for winning the Ladies' Doubles from the Mayor of Whangarei, Mr J. F. Johnson. Next to the mayor is Whangarei's lady warden, Mrs Iritana Rangikamaea Randall, whose untiring efforts greatly helped the success of the tournament. (Photo: Peter Blanc)

TENNIS COMES TO LIFE IN THE NORTH

The rain poured down hitting the pavement in large bubbles, a curtain of water coming down continuously through which you could hardly see.

Inside the marae everybody was up. Women passed in pyjamas and housecoats going to the showers, men in shorts with towels around their necks and children with large, dark bewildered eyes followed their mothers not knowing why they had to get up so early or what was this huge hall decorated with greenery.

The cooks at the back of the dining hall, three tall monumental figures, were preparing breakfast.

In the small office at the entrance of the marae —actually the Winter Exhibition Hall transformed into a marae for the four days of the tournament—the brains of the organisation were at work. The president of the Taitokerau Branch of the N.Z. Maori Lawn Tennis Association, Mr Lou Davis, with the secretary, Mr R. Kake, were busy ringing up to arrange accommodation, giving orders while at the other table the manager, Mr S. W. Maioha,

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and the treasurer, Mr N. Pirihi, made their way through a pile of papers scattered on the table, their activity interrupted at short intervals by a voice booming over the loud speaker making some announcement or giving some orders. In spite of Northland's large Maori population, but probably because of the lack of adequate facilities to cater for such a large group of people, the tournament has never taken place in Northland before. It needed courage to take up the challenge in September of this year, and within such a short time, put in motion the huge organisation that functioned well enough during the four days of the tournament in spite of all the special difficulties of rain and floods.

Help was received from all sides—the Agricultural and Pastoral Society put at the disposal of the committee their Winter Exhibition Hall—and private individuals and different firms in Whangarei donated the different trophies.

Invitations were sent to all the Maori centres in the North Island and to King Koroki, who was unable to attend because of illness. A party of five led by Dr M. Winiata arrived as his representatives, the other members of the party being Mr T. Katipa, Rev. Mutu Kapa, Mr P. Herewini, Mrs T. Hira and Mr Potana Hira. Visitors and players came from all over the North Island from Waikato, Wairoa, Kaitaia, Auckland, Te Kao, Karetu, Hamilton and even as far as Wellington.

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Miss Ruia Morrison (Photo: Peter Blanc)

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Prominent tournament personalities watching the proceedings are, left to right, Mr J. F. Johnson, Mayor of Whangarei, Mr S. M. Maioha, tournament manager, and Mr Riri Maihi Kawiti, O.B.E., senior chief of Ngapuhi. (Photo: Peter Blanc)

After the mihis the opening ceremony took place, the Mayor of Whangarei, Mr J. F. Johnson and other officials being present. Later, the prominent leader Te Riri Kawiti arrived, delayed by

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At the back of the dining hall are two of the cooks—Messrs Dick Shortland and J. Kaukau expertly carving the meat for the hundreds of visitors. (Photo: Peter Blanc)

the bad weather. In his welcome speech, he doubted the wisdom of a tennis tournament being held when the moon was dying—according to Maori tradition, this might well be the cause of the rain.

THE PLAYERS

She came down in slacks moving freely in the familiar atmosphere of the tennis courts, a slim small figure with a serious face—Miss Ruia Morrison. Unaffected by her success you feel at ease with her almost immediately.

Sitting under a tree near the tennis courts waiting for the rain to stop I asked her what was she going to do next year. She told me laughing that at last after three years of interruptions she managed to finish Training College and was going to teach in Auckland.

“How does it feel to be a national figure?”

She considered the question for a moment and then answered seriously:

“It carries a lot of responsibility, because you see, they look up to you (and ‘they’ she meant the Maori people) and you have to prove yourself every time. I know, because as a child I used to look up to those who were better or older than myself and try and follow their example.”

I watched her playing; it was a pleasure to watch the seriousness and concentration and at the same time the ease and elegance of every stroke. What is she going to do in the near future? Practice next week and then down to Christchurch to take part in the National Championships. Annlock Emery who played against her in the Ladies' Singles is a shorthand typist from Hamilton. Born at Otorohanga, where her father owns a [ unclear: ] arm, and educated there, Miss Emery has played tennis for quite a number of years. She was very happy that she had reached the point of playing against Ruia and although she knew beforehand that she was going to lose, at least she said. I can say that I have played against the best.

Most of the players knew each other. Annlock and Ruia are friends and while we were watching the Men's Single Championship I discovered that Moses Harvey was also one of her friends.

Moses Harvey lives in Auckland, is married and has a baby boy. He comes from Ruatoria and was educated there at the District High School, has been playing tennis since he was 11. On the surface a calm player, he leaps up with some amazingly good shots. He intends to compete in next year's tournament.

It was good to watch the juniors, eager and serious, some promising players among them. E. Neho who won the Boys' Singles and I. Morunga who won the Girls' Singles.

THE CONCERTS

At night the concert hall was always full. The visitors performed and the hosts performed; talent quests followed. A group of young boys and girls from Kaitaia college performed almost every night. A homogenious, well trained group, they will throw themselves into the rhythm and movement of the action songs with such pleasure and enthusiasm that it was a feast for the eye to watch them.

An Auckland group from Queen Victoria College, under the leadership of Mr H. R. Waititi, gave us a double poi dance and haka which made the audience wildly enthusiastic. But the highlight of the concerts was a long poi dance performed by one of the boys from Kaitaia. Suddenly all the lights in the large hall went out and in the darkness we could see only the dark figure of the boy and the two pois, which had been lighted, moving sensuously like red lines tracing fantastic patterns in the air to the beat of the guitars.

THE EVENTS

In spite of Dr Winiata's assurance that the Maori people regard rain as a good omen, rain interrupted most of the matches, harassing the players, the organisers and the public. Yet the tennis played was of a good standard. The Ladies' Singles match between Miss Ruia Morrison of Auckland and Miss A. Emery of Hamilton was a

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Part of the delegation from King Koroki (unable to attend through sickness) were, left to right, Mr P. Herewini, Mr P. Hira and Mrs T. Hira. Spokesman for Waikato was Dr Maharaia Winiata (not shown). (Northern Advocate Photograph)

good one, Ruia stroking her shots through definitely showed the experience gained overseas and the superior net playing that gave her victory. The score was 6–1, 6–1.

The Men's Singles between Mr Moses Harvey of Auckland and Mr B. Harris of Wellington was a less friendly match, Harris attacking at every point, Harvey more calm and showing superior net playing, beat him 8–6, 6–1.

Some very good matches were played among the juniors. Miss N. Davis proved a strong competitor for the Girls' Singles Championship, but was beaten by Miss I. Morunga (Whirinaki), the score being 4–6, 11–9, 7–5. The following is a list of the winners and runners-up in most of the events:

N.Z. Maori Men's Singles Championship—

  • Winner: M. Harvey

  • Runner-up: B. Harris.

N.Z. Maori Ladies' Singles Championship—

  • Winner: Ruia Morrison

  • Runner-up: A. Emery

N.Z. Maori Men's Doubles Championship—

  • Winners: T. Eru and B. Corbett

  • Runners-up: M. Harvey and M. Herewini

N.Z. Maori Ladies' Doubles Championship—

  • Winners: Ruia Morrison and A. Emery

  • Runners-up: H. and P. Rika

N.Z. Maori Combined Doubles Championship—

  • Winners: B. Maihi and Miss N. Smith

  • Runners-up: Ruia Morrison and B. Harris

N.Z. Maori Boys' Singles Championship—

  • Winner: E. Neho

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Presentation of a trophy to Mr Moses Harvey, of Auckland, winner of the Men's Singles Championship.
(Photograph: Peter Blanc)

  • Runner-up: P. Brown

N.Z. Maori Girls' Singles Championship—

  • Winner: I. Morunga

  • Runner-up: N. Davis

N.Z. Maori Boys' Doubles Championship—

  • Winners: L. Watene and R. Wilcox

  • Runners-up: R. and R. Allison

N.Z. Maori Girls' Doubles Championship—

  • Winners: M. and N. Davis

  • Runners-up: I. and E. Morunga

And so we came to the end. Everybody was tired but happy. After four exhaustive days of work and play, of concerts and singing and dancing, the people of Tokerau had shown themselves splendid hosts and young and old had been held together in a common bond.