Aotearoa Māori Tennis Association - a Brief History

Oral history records that Inter Marae Tennis dates back pre 1911, where most Marae had tennis courts and hosted competition against other Iwi and Hapu.

From 1911, the Marumaru Cup was contested by Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, and Whanganui. The Morehu Turoa Cup was an inter tribal competition comprising teams of eight players - four men and four women.

While this competition and the associated trophies have long disappeared, the legacy which started back then, has changed, grown, changed again, and continues today, albeit in a very different format.

New Zealand Māori Lawn Tennis Association

Sir Apirana Ngata, credited with being “the father of Māori tennis” formalised the various Māori competitions into one organisation called the New Zealand Māori Lawn Tennis Association. Under his leadership, a committee was formed and a constitution drawn up during the 1926 Easter tournament held in Rotorua. Despite a busy political career, Apirana still made time to indulge in sport, particularly tennis where his administrative skills were used more than his sporting abilities.

Sir Apirana Ngata

A champion of Māori land retention and development, a politician, a leader, a scholar, a writer, a tennis aspirant, Sir Apirana remained involved with the tennis association right up until his death in 1950 at the age of 76.

Tournament Format

The tournament was to be an annual contest with all the provinces sending their best players after first having held elimination rounds so that only the best players attended the tournament. This prevented the tournament from becoming too big and cumbersome. There were 94 players in the men's singles event at the 1926 event. The provincial aspect of the competition remained an integral part of the championships.