Semifinalists Confirmed for Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions



Taranaki perfection laid the platform for New Zealand’s top surfers to be whittled down to the semifinalists at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships held at perfect Stent Road today.

While the results of the Men’s Division went relatively according to plan with the likes of Billy Stairmand (Rag), Ricardo Christie (Gis) and Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha) advancing through to the semifinals, the Women’s Division was far from the same. 

Defending champion Raiha Ensor and her Mount Maunganui mate and New Zealand representative, Elin Tawharu were both dumped out of the event in the quarterfinals.

The surf pulsed throughout the morning with the swell building beyond the 2.0m mark with northerly winds offering the best conditions for a domestic event in years.

Stairmand is chasing a seventh national title at the event and knows that to do so, he has to first advance out of the semifinals before a potential match up against Gisborne’s Ricardo Christie among others.  Despite not being set to meet each Christyie until the final, Stairmand has him in his sight.

“I’m just really focussed, I feel like this year is going to be a good year for me, I am fit and healthy, surfing a lot, and feel like I am surfing well and I want to start the year strong, make the final and have a good battle with Ricardo so hope I progress a little bit more” said Stairmand after his heat.

He posted a 15.94 point heat total today finishing second as it was not enough to eclipse Piha’s Elliot Paerata – Reid who surfed to an exceptional 16.80 points to win the first quarterfinal. 

Paerata – Reid finished runner up to Christie in 2018 and only one place better will be enough for the young surfer who will again tackle the World Qualifying Series in 2019.


Above: Ricardo Christie // Cory / NZ Surfing Magazine



Topping the field today was Ricardo Christie posting a 17.1 point heat total in his match up.

“Man I was stoked to surf out there, the waves were firing and there were only three other kids out there” commented Christie after another clinical performance which he pits down to routine. 

“I just keep all heats exactly the same.  What I have learnt, is to do what you usually do whether you are here at the National Champs, at a boardriders comp or competing on the World Tour, I just like to keep it the same.

Stairmand, Paerata – Reid and Christie will be joined by local surfers Jarred Hancox and Sean Kettle who won through the tightest match up today eliminating Dune Kennings (Piha) and Luke Kerr (Tara).

Junior surfers Caleb Cutmore (Ham) and Tom Butland (Tara) round out the eight semifinalists for the Open Men’s Division.

With defending champion Raiha Ensor out of the Open Women’s Division, the field has opened up with a mix of young and old surfers vying for the final four.

It was another local surfer in Zhana Hutchieson that impressed the judges on her backhand today surfing to a 13.5 point heat total and heat win.  Hutchieson was joined on the winners podium by Laura Griffin (Mnt) and Saffi Vette (Gis).

Vette took out the first quarterfinal match up along with Grace Spiers (WGM) in second, together eliminating Ensor.  Vette’s aggressive approach to the big waves was enough to see her get the nod over her older counterparts.

Griffin was another giant killer, together with Aimee Brown (Great Barrier), putting an end to Elin Tawharu’s chances of a maiden title.

The afternoon was filled with senior divisions where participants relished the chance to taste the power of the waves today.

The Over 30 Men’s Division will be an all Taranaki affair for the final with Bachelor Tipene, Jarred Hancox, Dwaine Mataa and Danny Kaweroa all making the final.

Locals were again in force in the Over 35 Men’s Division with six of eight semifinalists coming from Taranaki. However it was Raglan surfer Chris Malone who shone in the division with a 17.2 point winning heat total.

The match up of the senior divisions came in the Over 40 Men’s Division where Taranaki’s Dwaine Mataa and Manu Schafer surfed to 18 point heat totals to eliminate Chris Malone who himself posted 16.8 points in their heat.

Thursday (January 10th) sees the introduction of bodyboard and Stand Up Paddleboard Divisions plus the Kneeboard on Friday.  The surf is expected to decrease throughout Thursday with northerly winds forecasted.

See below for results from day four of the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships held at Stent Road, Taranaki today (Wednesday 9th January).

Open Men’s Division Round 2
Heat 1
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 14.6, 1, Josh Taylor (Mnt), 12, 2, Dwaine Mataa (Tara), 10.9, 3, Ben Kennings (Whmata), 10.57, 4
Heat 2
Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 15.46, 1, Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 14.8, 2, Chris Malone (Gis), 11.44, 3, Harry Macintosh (Waiheke), 9.57, 4
Heat 3
Dune Kennings (Whmata), 14.17, 1, Jarred Hancox (Tara), 12.57, 2, Conor McLennan (Chch), 12.13, 3, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 11.9, 4
Heat 4
Luke Kerr (Tara), 12.9, 1, Sean Kettle (Tara), 12.66, 2, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 10.4, 3, Shane Kraus (Piha), 10.16, 4
Heat 5
Manu Schafer (Tara), 17.5, 1, Callum Chuter (Mnt), 13.2, 2, Luke Griffin (Mnt), 11.06, 3, Zac Curle (Waihi Beach), 10.06, 4
Heat 6 
Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 11.3, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 11.17, 2, Bachelor Tipene (Tara), 9.6, 3, Ruben Peyroux (Dun), 9.3, 4
Heat 7 
Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 14.1, 1, Jack Lee (Whaka), 11.77, 2, Kora Cooper (Rag), 10.8, 3, Zen Wallis (Piha), 10.77, 4
Heat 8 
Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 18.53, 1, Jay Piper - Healion (Whiti), 9.6, 2, Nick Dunne (Tara), 9.4, 3, Mark Becker (Tara), 6.36, 4

Open Men’s Quarterfinals
Heat 1
Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 16.8, 1, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 15.94, 2, Josh Taylor (Mnt), 12.94, 3, Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 10.8, 4
Heat 2
Jarred Hancox (Tara), 15.17, 1, Sean Kettle (Tara), 15.07, 2, Dune Kennings (Whmata), 14.96, 3, Luke Kerr (Tara), 9.34, 4
Heat 3
Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 13.97, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 13.1, 2, Callum Chuter (Mnt), 12.13, 3, Manu Schafer (Tara), 9.23, 4
Heat 4
Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 17.1, 1, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 14.1, 2, Jay Piper - Healion (Whiti), 13, 3, Jack Lee (Whaka), 9.76, 4


Open Women’s Division Quarterfinals
Heat 1
Saffi Vette (Gis), 12.43, 1, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 9.97, 2, Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 8.4, 3, Estella Hungerfrd (Chch), 6.5, 4
Heat 2
Zhana Hutchieson (Tara), 13.54, 1, Gabriella Sansom (Auck), 13.3, 2, Ava Henderson (Chch), 8.13, 3, Ariana Shewry (Oakura), 3.6, 4
Heat 3 
Laura Griffin (Mnt), 10.37, 1, Aimee Brown (GB), 10.07, 2, Elin Tawahru (Mnt), 7.27, 3, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 4.7, 4

The longest running surfing event in New Zealand takes place over seven days from January 6-12 along the Taranaki Coastline.  The event was last contested in the Taranaki region in 2007 and has been held in the region on nine other occasions.  This year’s edition is being hosted by Oakura Boardriders Club.

In the 55 year history of the event the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships has grown to encompass 29 divisions spread across all disciplines and age groups making for a largely inclusive event, filled with high level surfing as well as good times in and out of the water.  Over 330 entries have been received for the event.

The Health 2000 National Surfing Championships forms the first leg of the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series which in turn provides a vital pathway toward the ISA World Surfing Games, a key Olympic qualification event in 2019.

Below is the schedule of events taking place with surfing being held from approx. 8am – 4pm daily.

Day 1 – Open Men, Junior Boys divisions
Day 2 – Addition of Women’s divisions
Day 3 – Addition of Men’s senior age group divisions
Day 4 – Addition of Longboard divisions
Day 5 – Addition of SUP and Bodyboard Divisions
Day 6 – Addition of Kneeboard
Day 7 – All divisions