TAIRONGO and Torere’s rugby teams prepare for a scrum. Photos Troy Baker D7623-57

OPOTIKI turned out in force to watch the four-day Te Whakawhanaungatanga o Muriwai, or the Muriwai Tournament.

The annual sporting tournament run by the Ngai Tamahaua Hapu is now in its 36th year and brings whanau together with the Muriwai connection extending across the Bay and beyond.

Competitors of all ages represented their marae in netball, basketball, rugby, pool and darts.

Darts and pool have not previously been included in the tournament, but the two sports proved popular in their debut, with players even coming from Australia to participate.

The tournament organisers were pleased with the success of this year’s inclusion of pool and darts and said more teams had wanted to enter the new events than could be accommodated.

The D.H. Herewini Memorial Trophy taonga for the winner of the billiards was presented by the whanau in honour of long-time tournament official – and billiards ace David Herewini.

The trophy was taken out by the Omarumutu combination of Rip Morgan and Massey Te Pairi.

The victorious pair battled it out in the final rounds with Waiaua-based “OGs” and the Maraenui “Hot Shots”.

Witeria Papuni – who also played – controlled the proceedings and was praised for organising a well-run event that saw 16 teams compete over the two days.

There was a whole table of trophies and medals on offer for the darts competition including the Pano Heurea Memorial “Bulls Eye Finish” and trophies for men’s and women’s high score and high peg in divisions one and two.

Torere Shot Darts came runners-up with Bullzeye (Maraenui) victorious. The eight available dart boards at the RSA had to be used for the 16 teams and there was a big crowd enjoying the display of dartsmanship.

Organiser Tiria Orupe was kept busy running the rounds and was thankful for the support from the Opotiki RSA Darts Club in making it such a success.

In the basketball, players had to use War Memorial Park and the Opotiki College gymnasium due to extra teams this year.

“It’s been a really exciting turnout. Last year, we had 110 teams. This year, we have 150,” said Genevieve Pupuke.

She estimated about 200 spectators turned out on Thursday morning for the junior basketball, and said she was impressed with the games being played.

“It’s amazing, we’ve got some really talented children.”