Dedication wins the belt
Mele Tuliakiono’s desire not to be bullied has seen her become one of the youngest black belts in New Zealand.
The 12-year-old, who attends Mid City Kyokushin Karate at Cannons Creek Park, is modesty personified, but her performances on the mat lately have her peers and mentors in awe.
She can’t stop grinning but hates the thought of appearing arrogant.
‘‘ I was bullied at primary school. Coming here [to begin karate lessons] was daunting but it’s been great for me, especially for my confidence.’’
Recently Tuliakiono endured six hours of written and physical tests, similar to what an adult would go through, to achieve her black belt.
She says she couldn’t eat any breakfast on the big day – she was so nervous.
In November, Tuliakiono won her division at nationals against a 14-year-old.
She attends classes twice a week but spends much more time at home, practising her kata – the detailed movements students are tested on.
‘‘I really want my second black belt, but I know it’s going to take a while. I’m going to work hard for it.’’
A keen hockey player and netballer, Tuliakiono says karate has helped with her other sports because of the discipline, balance and fitness required.
Her ability and ease with those younger than her has seen Tuliakiono urged to pass on what she has learnt. One of her instructors, Joanne Ross, says it something Tuliakiono does confidently.
‘‘She’s great with the little ones, a wonderful role model because they can see what’s possible. What we see is that, along with her skills, her contribution at Mid City grows as well.’’
Mid City Kyokushin Karate has more than 30 members aged from 7 to 30, with more always welcome.
Watch out: Mele Tuliakiono had what it takes to be awarded a black belt, her strong will and level of endurance coping with six hours of tough testing.