Rautangi makes NZ team
Rautangi Pitiroi is a future Black Stick in the making.
If you need proof, you only need look to the fact that the 14-year-old, who attends Te Kura Kaupapa Ma¯ori o Whakarewa i Te Reo Ki Tu¯wharetoa in Taupo¯, has just been selected for the New Zealand Ma¯ori Under-21 Women’s Hockey team.
Rautangi was selected at the recent National Ma¯ori Hockey Tournament in Rotorua where she was playing for the Waiariki Women’s A Team.
Her coach (and koro) Taite Pitiroi says Rautangi has been selected in her specialist position as striker, which is a remarkable feat considering her age and the level of hockey.
The U21 team will play a three-match series against a touring Queensland U21 side later next year.
Rautangi’s wha¯nau say they feel a great sense of satisfaction at her selection as a striker, because it vindicates their belief that she is the best forward and goal scorer in Bay of Plenty hockey for her age group, although she often has to play out of position to cover vital positions in the team.
Rautangi has always trained as a striker and is a prolific goal scorer, scoring more than 30 goals for her kura team last season. She also played for Bay of Plenty.
Taite says while she was a surprise selection for the Waiariki Women’s A team, Rautangi justified her selection by playing with a lot of maturity and showcasing skills and vision beyond her years. The team went on to win this year’s National Ma¯ori Hockey Tournament, beating a strong Waikato/Maniapoto women's side in a very close-fought final, with Rautangi scoring the winning goal late in the second half to secure a 2-1 win for her team.
Rautangi says she knew there were going to be national team selectors at the tournament but says she didn’t let it get to her.
“I think getting in was kind of like a bonus but I was there to play and do my best, I guess.”
Taite, who has coached Rautangi ever since she began playing, says while he always knew she had the talent to make the team, he did not think she would be selected so young. Naturally, he is very proud, as are Rautangi’s parents Ruby and Akuira and her five siblings.
Taite says Rautangi started showing signs at a really early age that she was going to be a special player, along with two other kura girls the same age, Noaria Kapua, a centre half, and Piata Morehu, a forward/ striker.
“They all displayed a very adept hockey skillset, a very strong desire to succeed and a very competitive never say die attitude. Plans and programmes were put in place to help them develop their all round skillset, so as to help them reach their full potential a lot quicker.”
Taite says Rautangi has worked hard over the past five years to develop and fine-tune her skills as a forward/striker and also a lot of time working on her overall strength, speed and fitness.
“She is now at a stage in her development where she feels totally comfortable and completely unfazed playing alongside and against players older and a lot more experienced than herself.”
This was Rautangi’s first year of playing for Waiariki but she has been playing for Bay of Plenty for three years and has served as captain of both the U13 and U15 Bay of Plenty teams. Her ultimate goal is to become a Black Stick.
Rautangi says she loves hockey and loves scoring goals.
“I think because I’ve been playing it for so long it’s just something that makes me happy I guess.”
Rautangi is not the kura’s first national hockey representative — former student Kewarei Hawkins, 19, is in the New Zealand Ma¯ori under-21 Men’s hockey team too. Two other kura students are also doing well in hockey. Rerehau Wineera played alongside Rautangi in the Waiariki Women’s A Team and was Player of the Year for the Taupo¯ women’s team this year and year 12 student Te Omeka Tekakau played for Waiariki Men’s B team.
Rautangi Pitiroi has been selected for the New Zealand Ma¯ori Under-21 Women’s Hockey Team.