A Ngati Porou school boy has his sights set on one day competing against elite players, in the holy grail for golfers around the world - the PGA tour.
Eleven year-old Maadi Kirikiri recently qualified for an American golf championship that will help him to reach his goal. The event attracts over 3,000 junior players from more than 50 countries.
Maadi (Ngati Hau) affiliates to Hinetamatea marae in Anaura Bay. He lives in Christchurch and he is a great-grand mokopuna of Henare Kirikiri (Papa Duff) and Ngarangi Kahiwa Kirikiri Potini. (Photo: Maadi receives the Arthur Chambers Trophy from Canterbury Golf Director, Blair Minton)
Maadi comes from a sporting whanau. His grandfather on his Mums side played rugby for may years for the Canterbury Crusaders and the All Blacks, while his Grandfather on his father’s side is a former Maori All Black.
His father Henare says their whole whanau are very proud of Maadi’s achievements and his determination to rise up the golf rankings.
“His work ethic is phenomenal at his age,” says Henare. “He is driven to being the very best he can and is always looking at how to improve. Golf has also given him life skills and taught him etiquette, which also has increased his love for a sport dominated mainly by Pakeha.”
Maadi started his golfing career at three years old where he was the youngest player to compete at the national Junior Tiger golf tournament. For comparison, New Zealand women’s golf star, Lydia Ko, was five years old when she first picked up a golf club.
Because Maadi showed a passion for the game at such as early age, Henare supported his son’s ambition by enrolling him in junior programmes and events. To reach his goal of joining the professional ranks, Maadi puts in the mahi seven days a week.
“Every day after school I pick him up and we go to the range to work on his game for 2 hours,” says Henare. “Every Saturday morning Maadi has coaching lessons at the golf club, then we go play 18 holes of golf. Every Sunday Maadi then plays in representative tournaments all over Canterbury, so he has very little time to relax apart from after the events.”
All this hard work paid off recently with Maadi travelling in April to Queensland to represent New Zealand in the Australian Junior Age Group Division Golf Championship. Maadi was the first young Maori to play in this international event along with 300 other children from other nations. Maadi competed against forty young golfers in the Under 12's Division, and did himself proud by placing 5th tied overall and 3rd in his 11 year old age group.
As a result of his high placings, Maadi instantly qualified to be eligible to compete in the upcoming 2022 Sean Foley Junior World Stars of Golf which will be held in Las Vegas in June. The event is a dream come true for Maadi. If he wins in his age group or places in the top 5 at the event, he will then be eligible to participate at all the American Junior Golf Events on the PGA tour.
But in order to get to Las Vegas, Maadi and his whanau are fundraising and seeking sponsorship to assist with the cost associated with Maadi's registration and travel. Maadi’s whanau invite any Coasties who can help them reach their fundraising target, to please get in touch with them.
Henare says he is proud of his son, not only because of his golfing achievements, but also because of who he is as a young person.
“Maadi has a curious mind and always loves taking on challenges. He is also looked up to as a leader and as someone that his friends could go to for help and advice.”
Maadi says he is also appreciative of his father, and the opportunities he has provided for him. The chance to possibly compete on the American Junior Golf circuit, is a challenge that he wants to do not only for himself but also for other tamariki.
“I want to show kids that anything is possible. If I can do it, then anyone can. Having my Papa with me always supporting me really helps. If you want to do well at any sport, not just golf, you have to work hard because no one will give it to you. It has be to earnt.”
Help Maadi travel to Las Vegas in June for the Sean Foley Junior World Stars of Golf by donating or providing sponsorship.
Follow Maadi’s journey on Instagram, as he takes the next steps to turn pro.
Maadi pictured with his proud father Henare Kirikiri.