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Aotearoa Maori Team top medal count at inaugural Oceania Challenge

Aotearoa Maori Team top medal count at inaugural Oceania Challenge

If the results of the inaugural 2023 Digicel Oceania Challenge are any indication, the future of Pasifika bowls is brimming with talent, determination and plenty of flair.

Hosted by Blockhouse Bay Bowling Club in Auckland, 19 teams throughout the Oceania Region took to the greens for a taste of international play, concluding on Monday afternoon (17 April). Countries represented include NZ Under-26, Aotearoa Maori, Norfolk Island, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau and the Cook Islands.

The four day event saw nine teams battle it out in the men’s field and eight teams line-up in the women’s. All four disciplines were played with teams split into two sections to contest a round-robin format, with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs in every discipline.

Following section play, the winners of each section secured a spot in the gold medal match-up, while third and fourth placings took to the rink to play for bronze.

The first medal of the event went the way of the Aotearoa Maori men’s triple, with Nathan Goodin, Kaylin Huwyler and Hamish Kape combining to defeat Taylor Horn, David Motu and Tom Taiaroa, while in the fours, Motu and Taiaroa joined with Wellington duo Seamus Curtin and Finbar McGuigan to take out the gold medal opposite a strong Cook Island’s side comprising Aiden Zittersteijn, Taiki Paniani, Teora Turua and Jason Lindsay.

Bronze medalists in both the triples and fours went the way of Tonga’s Steve Hoeft, Liam Hill and Ula Fusimalohi (triples) and Aotearoa Maori quartet Raika Gregory, Kape, Goodin and Michael Staite (fours).

In the men’s pairs, Curtin and McGuigan were too strong in their discipline, combining to defeat Staite and Gregory for gold – marking a perfect two from two for the lads from Stokes Valley. The singles saw another gold go the way of Huwyler, who was in excellent form throughout the event, comfortably defeating Tonga’s Chris Smith.

Bronze medalists in the singles and pairs were secured by New Zealand U26 representative Horn (singles), while the formidable Commonwealth Games bronze medalists duo of Zittersteijn and Paniani roped in another medal for the Cook Islands.

Meanwhile, the women’s action saw a dominant display from the Aotearoa Maori contingent with Karen Hema, Gaylene Kanawa, Mina Paul and Lisa White securing gold in the fours, and Kanawa, Paul and Natarsha Grimshaw collecting gold in the triples. The finals saw Hema and Co defeat Fiji’s Sheryl Edwards, Losaline Qaya, Adi Kalim and Radhika…

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