Weighing in

Gisborne weightlifter's journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Gisborne weightlifter's journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Schoolboy weightlifter Kitini Taihuka takes a break during training. Pictures by Paul Rickard
Kitini Taihuka, 15, practises his weightlifting technique for the clean and jerk.

Kitini Taihuka has made rapid progress in his new sport, weightlifting. His road to a more active and healthy lifestyle is no less remarkable, and shows what can be achieved with a wholehearted approach and the support of friends and family. John Gillies finds out more about Kitini’s journey . . .

Gisborne schoolboy Kitini Taihuka is setting records in a sport he took up less than three months ago.

Kitini has set New Zealand under-15 weightlifting records for the under-85-kilogram division in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total weight lifted.

He was representing New Zealand at the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in Noumea, New Caledonia, six weeks ago.
Kitini, 15, and his friend Tuteari Te Rauna-Lamont qualified for the Oceania event with their performances at a competition in Mt Maunganui two and a half months ago.

Tuteari is a world-class crossfit athlete who has featured in The Gisborne Herald sports pages with his feats at international events over several years.

And it was crossfit that set Kitini on the path to weightlifting, a sport to which he seems ideally suited.
“I started doing crossfit when I was 10,” Kitini said.
“I was really big then, and my mate Anaru (Paenga-Morgan) thought crossfit might be a good way for me to lose weight.
“I started fixing up my diet. My mate’s mum (Janelle Te Rauna-Lamont, mother of Tuteari) told me what was good to eat.

That was a big change.

“She got me to eat whole foods, healthy food, not processed.
“I changed my diet slowly, but after a couple of months I could see the numbers drop when I went on the scales.

“I eat as much meat and veges as I can. With the amount of training we do, you can eat anything really. I train before school and from 5 at night.

“When I was really big — before I started crossfit — I just sat there eating till I got sick. I ate meals bigger than my dad’s.
“My family were happy I was making a change.”

Kitini weighed 81kg when he competed at the Oceania event in Noumea. Four weeks ago at the North Island championships he weighed in at 84.9kg — he had come off his diet while he attended a kapa haka festival before the champs.

At the age of 10, he had weighed “about 90kg”.

“When I was big, I didn’t really want to talk to people, and I got angry heaps,” Kitini said.

“When I lost that weight I became more confident talking to people. I am happier now.”
With his training in crossfit, and with the help of others in the gym, Kitini already had a reasonable idea of weightlifting technique when he and his family started looking online for weightlifting competitions to enter.

“We (he and Tuteari) wanted to try a new sport,” Kitini said.

As well as weightlifting, crossfit and kapa haka, Kitini competes wholeheartedly in rugby, as a prop for the Gisborne Boys’ High School under-15s, and waka ama.

After Kitini and Tuteari qualified at Mt Maunganui for the Oceania weightlifting event, the next step was fundraising.
“My sister Jenny (Penfold) set up a fundraising page on Facebook, and we got enough money to get to Noumea,” Kitini said.

The youngest of five siblings in a blended family, Kitini has two brothers and two sisters.

In Noumea, Kitini lifted 101kg in the snatch, 121kg in the clean and jerk, and 222kg in total — all three weights were New Zealand records for under-15 weightlifters in the u85kg division. His lifts were good enough to earn him first place in the youth section and second in the junior section.

Kitini was allocated Tina Ball as his coach at the Oceania event. Ball was a world record-holder in masters’ weightlifting and coached New Zealand’s David Liti to his Gold Coast Commonwealth Games weightlifting gold medal this year.

“She told me I should carry on with this sport,” Kitini said.
“She said she would like to coach me.”

Kitini gladly accepted the offer. Ball keeps in touch on Facebook and sends him programmes. He has to send her videos of his lifts and she corrects any faults she sees.

“I just put my phone against my drink bottle and press ‘record’,” he said.

At the North Island Weightlifting Championships in Mt Maunganui in mid-July, Kitini set a new age-group u85kg record for the clean and jerk — 122kg, one kilogram heavier than his previous record weight. He was the youngest competitor in the u85kg class.

Kitini’s parents, Mark Taihuka and Julie-Ann Ebdale, say Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand (OWNZ) have been “very supportive” of Kitini. Before Tina Ball started helping Kitini, OWNZ secondary school co-ordinator Ray Everest was sending him programmes.

“You don’t just appear at the Oceania champs; you have to be selected to represent New Zealand,” said Julie-Ann, who co-ordinates the running of the Red Cross shop in Bright Street.

“That was a really big thing for Kitini.”

Mark, who drives for Pacific Haulage as a logging truck driver, said Kitini had qualified for the New Zealand weightlifting national championships that would take place in September.

In the meantime, Kitini trains at Crossfit Gisborne twice a day, follows his programme and eats to compete, as he focuses on representing Gisborne and New Zealand in the future.

Kitini Taihuka has made rapid progress in his new sport, weightlifting. His road to a more active and healthy lifestyle is no less remarkable, and shows what can be achieved with a wholehearted approach and the support of friends and family. John Gillies finds out more about Kitini’s journey . . .

Gisborne schoolboy Kitini Taihuka is setting records in a sport he took up less than three months ago.

Kitini has set New Zealand under-15 weightlifting records for the under-85-kilogram division in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total weight lifted.

He was representing New Zealand at the Oceania Weightlifting Championships in Noumea, New Caledonia, six weeks ago.
Kitini, 15, and his friend Tuteari Te Rauna-Lamont qualified for the Oceania event with their performances at a competition in Mt Maunganui two and a half months ago.

Tuteari is a world-class crossfit athlete who has featured in The Gisborne Herald sports pages with his feats at international events over several years.

And it was crossfit that set Kitini on the path to weightlifting, a sport to which he seems ideally suited.
“I started doing crossfit when I was 10,” Kitini said.
“I was really big then, and my mate Anaru (Paenga-Morgan) thought crossfit might be a good way for me to lose weight.
“I started fixing up my diet. My mate’s mum (Janelle Te Rauna-Lamont, mother of Tuteari) told me what was good to eat.

That was a big change.

“She got me to eat whole foods, healthy food, not processed.
“I changed my diet slowly, but after a couple of months I could see the numbers drop when I went on the scales.

“I eat as much meat and veges as I can. With the amount of training we do, you can eat anything really. I train before school and from 5 at night.

“When I was really big — before I started crossfit — I just sat there eating till I got sick. I ate meals bigger than my dad’s.
“My family were happy I was making a change.”

Kitini weighed 81kg when he competed at the Oceania event in Noumea. Four weeks ago at the North Island championships he weighed in at 84.9kg — he had come off his diet while he attended a kapa haka festival before the champs.

At the age of 10, he had weighed “about 90kg”.

“When I was big, I didn’t really want to talk to people, and I got angry heaps,” Kitini said.

“When I lost that weight I became more confident talking to people. I am happier now.”
With his training in crossfit, and with the help of others in the gym, Kitini already had a reasonable idea of weightlifting technique when he and his family started looking online for weightlifting competitions to enter.

“We (he and Tuteari) wanted to try a new sport,” Kitini said.

As well as weightlifting, crossfit and kapa haka, Kitini competes wholeheartedly in rugby, as a prop for the Gisborne Boys’ High School under-15s, and waka ama.

After Kitini and Tuteari qualified at Mt Maunganui for the Oceania weightlifting event, the next step was fundraising.
“My sister Jenny (Penfold) set up a fundraising page on Facebook, and we got enough money to get to Noumea,” Kitini said.

The youngest of five siblings in a blended family, Kitini has two brothers and two sisters.

In Noumea, Kitini lifted 101kg in the snatch, 121kg in the clean and jerk, and 222kg in total — all three weights were New Zealand records for under-15 weightlifters in the u85kg division. His lifts were good enough to earn him first place in the youth section and second in the junior section.

Kitini was allocated Tina Ball as his coach at the Oceania event. Ball was a world record-holder in masters’ weightlifting and coached New Zealand’s David Liti to his Gold Coast Commonwealth Games weightlifting gold medal this year.

“She told me I should carry on with this sport,” Kitini said.
“She said she would like to coach me.”

Kitini gladly accepted the offer. Ball keeps in touch on Facebook and sends him programmes. He has to send her videos of his lifts and she corrects any faults she sees.

“I just put my phone against my drink bottle and press ‘record’,” he said.

At the North Island Weightlifting Championships in Mt Maunganui in mid-July, Kitini set a new age-group u85kg record for the clean and jerk — 122kg, one kilogram heavier than his previous record weight. He was the youngest competitor in the u85kg class.

Kitini’s parents, Mark Taihuka and Julie-Ann Ebdale, say Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand (OWNZ) have been “very supportive” of Kitini. Before Tina Ball started helping Kitini, OWNZ secondary school co-ordinator Ray Everest was sending him programmes.

“You don’t just appear at the Oceania champs; you have to be selected to represent New Zealand,” said Julie-Ann, who co-ordinates the running of the Red Cross shop in Bright Street.

“That was a really big thing for Kitini.”

Mark, who drives for Pacific Haulage as a logging truck driver, said Kitini had qualified for the New Zealand weightlifting national championships that would take place in September.

In the meantime, Kitini trains at Crossfit Gisborne twice a day, follows his programme and eats to compete, as he focuses on representing Gisborne and New Zealand in the future.

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