Tennis NZ appoints first cultural advisor

The hononga between Tennis New Zealand and the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association has been further strengthened with the appointment of Adam Whauwhau as Kaitohu Ahurea o Tēnehi Aotearoa.

Whauwhau (Ngāti Hauā) has been an executive on the board of the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association for 20 years and is a cultural advisor for the association.

He will now also serve as a cultural advisor for Tennis New Zealand in this newly created role.

“I am looking forward to this partnership and what the future brings,” Whauwhau said.

“This position is a new position, so I am looking forward to working with the Tennis New Zealand Board and staff to develop directions for the future around reotanga and engaging with iwi, hapū and hapori.”

Whauwhau said as part of this partnership he will be helping with and giving direction around all things Māori, including pōwhiri and tikanga, and will be working to adapt and embed these cultural practices within Tennis New Zealand as an organisation.

Tennis New Zealand Chief Executive Julie Paterson said Whauwhau’s new role will build on the strong bonds that already exist between the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association and Tennis New Zealand, cemented through the refreshing of a rangapū signed between the two organisations in 2019.

“Our relationship with the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association is incredibly important and Adam’s appointment to this new role will help accelerate work related to a Mana Māori policy soon to be adopted by our Board and our Tikanga Rua programme already underway,” Paterson said.

“This work acknowledges the mana of the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association as the kaitiaki of Māori tennis, and it also highlights Tennis New Zealand’s commitment to Māori values and the key principles embodied in Te Tiriti.”

Whauwhau has been involved in tennis since his childhood. He was born in Invercargill but his tribal ties are in the Waikato – Ngāti Hauā is his iwi, Te Rangitaupī is his hapū, and Te Iti o Hauā (Tauwhare) is his marae.

“I have always been around sports. My mother was full into netball and racket sports, so I followed suit,” Whauwhau said.

“Growing up, we had whānau gatherings where we would all go and watch our uncles and aunties play tennis. I was about 5-6 years old at the time. When they weren’t playing tennis, me and my younger cousins used to try and replicate what they were doing.”

That love of tennis has remained ever since and Whauwhau and his whānau have been playing in a Māori tennis tournament in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) for more than 20 years now.

He still plays inter-club tennis, business house tennis, as well as inter-association fixtures and senior tournaments throughout the country. He is also a selector for Waikato Tennis seniors.

Whauwhau joined the board of the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association in the early 2000s. 

“My involvement had been around being a kaikōrero during pōwhiri and also being a kaumātua in the absence of our elderly board members. I pay homage to Tā Tāmati Reedy and Bill Kaua who have been rangatira for Aotearoa Māori Tennis for 30-plus years.”

When Whauwhau is not on or around the tennis court, he is a secondary school teacher at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu in Kirikiriroa.

He has been teaching for 27 years and has worked in mainstream schools, kura kaupapa and wharekura throughout Aotearoa.

He is also one of the speakers on his marae and is a member of Te Mātāwai / Ngā Paemanu o Tainui, which assesses applications for strategies around te reo Māori revitalisation.

Whauwhau has two sons and five mokopuna and said he hopes that one of them “or all of them” might take a future interest in tennis, just like he did.

The newly created role of Kaitohu Ahurea o Tēnehi Aotearoa is supported by Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa through its Strengthen and Adapt programme for identified national partners. 

Tennis New Zealand’s Tikanga Rua project is a key deliverable under the programme.

Sport New Zealand’s Strengthen and Adapt programme manager, Rodger Thompson, said Tennis New Zealand is one of 34 national partners to receive funding through the programme and it is exciting to see the Tikanga Rua project come to life.

“The Tikanga Rua project is intended to accelerate Tennis New Zealand’s bi-cultural journey by strengthening its relationship with the Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association and creating new relationships with Māori across Aotearoa,” Thompson said.

“We congratulate Adam on his appointment into this hugely important role, which we hope will enable greater reach, impact, and benefits for all stakeholders, particularly Māori.”

Watch Adam’s interview on Te Karere here

Original Tennis NZ artical here

Write a comment