Tagata Pasifika

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New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Last Stance Gym returns home with six medals from Malaysia

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
ŌtaraSix from Last Stance Gym in Ōtara representing New Zealand at the FMA World Youth Muay Thai tournament in Malaysia. Photo: Facebook
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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

Earlier this year, we brought you the story of the Last Stance Gym in Ōtara who were fundraising for the IFMA World Youth Muay Thai tournament in Malaysia. Now they’ve come back from that tournament with six medals in tow. 

Run by trainer and owner Tutavake Petero, the gym is a home for young martial arts athletes from all over South Auckland. Petero says he’s extremely proud of his young fighters.

“To be honest I haven’t found the words or sentences to really explain how I feel besides the normal you know, proud etc,” Petero says.

“Part of my role is to give an honest report on each fighter and what needs improvement and so on, but you can’t really be too critical when all your fighters return with medals and placings on a world stage and from our little part of the world, Ōtara.

“We’re just carrying the torch and moving it forward for the next generation and proving more and more it is possible to do and achieve the impossible and unthinkable.”

The team travelled to Malaysia hoping to gain experience and exposure from the tournament, as this was their first time on such a big stage.

Not only were the team faced with having to fundraise for their trip, they also met with other obstacles which tested their resolve upon arriving in Malaysia.

“Injuries and Weight were and always are hindrances in any combat sport but at the IFMA World championships these are strict, you can lose by missing weight,” Petero says. 

“We had some serious ones leading into the world champs, broken bones, Covid, fractures but the boys pushed through adversity. “So, a bit of a shock but it adds to the experience and adds to our basket of knowledge”.

Last Stance Gym trainers John T Maea, Etukura Cecil and Ruta Petero. Photo: Facebook

Back in their humble gym in Ōtara, Petero and his team are going through their normal routines once again, training and preparing for the next big challenges ahead. 

The trip to Malaysia might have been a success, but Tutavake and the Last Stance believe that they still have more to offer not only for New Zealand, but their South Auckland aiga.

“I like the words from a ‘Groovehouse’ track that chants, ‘South Side we Rise!’” Petero states  proudly.

“We must prepare the next group of up-and-coming Ōtara fighters and with the current ones we have the ongoing New Zealand circuit to compete in. Also, New Zealand vs Australia trials under SIAM CUP NZ, more IFMA tournaments and staying prepared week in week out.

“Ōtara, South Auckland is bigger than the negative stigma portrayed in society and mainstream media.”

As they assess a few injuries and also some work-ons for the future, Tutavake and his team are grateful for the ongoing support from their community.

“Our Ōtara community and everyone who showed love, prayers, messages, and support locally, nationally, and internationally,” Petero says. 

“Finally, the families of our Ōtara Six, Thank you. We appreciate, love and respect you all.”

The Ōtara Six achieved outstanding results returning back to New Zealand with a total of six medals in tow. Photo: Supplied

Medallists (Ōtara Six)


Journey “Lil General” Petero71kg Bronze Medallist

Raka “Lights” Cecil 58kg Bronze Medallist


Anton “PokerFace” Cecil 67kg Gold Medallist

Taivero “Scorpion” Cecil 40kg Gold Medallist

Temana “Einstein” Taura 46kg Silver Medallist

Tristyn “T-Rex” Nathan 60kg Bronze Medallist

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