“Wai” Tara Iti? The Maori Prefix and Why It Appears in So Many New Zealand Golf Course Names

Stirring around for an angle on the announcement that Ric Kayne—founder and owner of Tara Iti Golf Club in New Zealand—would be opening two public courses adjacent to his acclaimed private playground, we stumbled upon something else entirely.

Considering that Tom Doak (designer of the original Tara Iti layout) and Coore & Crenshaw were announced as the respective sculptors for the future courses, not to mention the land those courses will be sitting on, it’s inevitable to make some sort of “Bandon, New Zealand” reference. Mangawhai is about to become an international bucket list destination for golfers. So we figured we would check out what other options were available to those in the neighborhood. The nearest is named, neatly, Mangawhai Golf Club.

This piqued our interest, noticing that a heck of a lot of courses in New Zealand’s North Island region incorporated the syllable “wai” (or “whai”). Why “wai”? Two parts to the answer: One, most golf courses in the area simply retain the name of their geographical locations. Secondly, those locations all tend to feature a prominent aquatic feature. In Maori, “wai” invokes water, hence the so many golf courses having some form of “water” built into their names. Which is the most normal thing in the world: Think of all the “Lake,” “Creek,” “Stream” et al courses that you play at.

Anyway, here are a few highlights—all located on New Zealand’s North Island—that you may be able to squeeze a few rounds on when Kayne’s links paradise opens to the public (no proposed dates yet).


Photo Cred: Mangawhai Golf Club

Mangawhai Golf Club
“Stream of The Stingray”

Mangawhai—the aforementioned nearest public course to Tara Iti on our list—takes its name the forking creek that stems off of Mangawhai Harbour. The outlet—legally titled “Tara Creek,” which is far less metal than the Maori “Stream of The Stingray”—does not, unfortunately, bring the aforementioned fish into play, as none of the holes actually border the water. It still packs a prick, however. The Harry Dale layout had been rated as the toughest in New Zealand as recently as the mid-’90s, thanks to elevated greens that play under true links conditions. Technically “inland,” Mangawhai is only a few thousand feet off of the Pacific Ocean. It’s short, but remember: No one has ever been killed by a Manta Ray. It’s the little ones you gotta look out for.


Muriwai Golf Club
“Water’s End”

It’s easy to have links courses when you’re an island. Ironically for residents of Auckland, the largest city on the North Island, there’s only one links course available for someone looking to “stay in town.” Muriwai translates to “Water’s End,” which of course reflects where the sea comes ashore on the course’s coast. Tara Iti, Cape Kidnappers, Kauri Cliffs, and a majority of New Zealand’s biggest names play out to the Pacific. Not the case for Muriwai, which faces the Tasman Sea. Does this make a difference? Not really. One thing that has impacted the Harold Babbage design is coastal erosion, which has resulted in new holes forming along the course’s shoreline portion. Wind exposure reportedly make these the most brutal as well.


Photo Cred: Wainui Golf Club

Wainui Golf Club
“Large Waters”

The irony behind the course named “Large Waters” is that it’s lacking in anything that New Zealanders would probably consider “large water” (they all live fairly close to a coast). Wainui is actually an inland course. The story there is that members formerly played at the Peninsula Golf Club, which was located on the shore of the Pacific. Money came calling, however, and developers bought the land the Red Beach course was built upon. The same developers appreciated the property so much, they agreed to supply a new course and clubhouse three miles inland. The new “large water” is the lake that sits a few hundred yards behind the clubhouse, surrounding a forced-carry and/or cape-style hazard for the Nos. 9 and 18 holes, which meet in a double green.


Waipu Golf Club
“Reddish Water”

There is, unfortunately, no good story we can find about the name “Reddish Water.” We figured there would at least be a copper mine, if not a full-on massacre on the Pacific Coast, just north of Mangawhai (and Tara Iti). No luck. There is, however, plenty of water. This Harold Babbage design sits right on the beach. There is plenty of metal to harvest from the Waipu region, if not copper. Alien Weaponry caught our attention, appropriately, by singing in Maori. Its 2018 full-length features the English-language track “PC Bro,” so as a groove metal outfit, it’s totally inclined to some Phil Anselmo hard-headedness, but worth a look. BONUS: The nearby Waipu Caves feature extensive “glow worms,” which are awesome.


Photo Cred: Wairakei Golf Club

Wairakei Golf Club
“Place Where Pools Are Used As Mirrors”

This was easily the most disappointing translation of the courses featured, but certainly not the most disappointing course—it’s ranked No. 11 in New Zealand, based on Top 100 Golf, a source we tend to trust. Could one use the bodies of water at Wairakei as mirrors? Sure, maybe. Could they just sit back and admire the volcanic steam spewing from them? YES. The fattest part of North Island includes the Taupo Volcanic Zone, including the occasionally destructive Mt. Ruapehu. Although Wairakei itself doesn’t sit on a “volcano” per se, evidence of volcanic activity hums everywhere, primarily in boreholes. The course’s signature hole, “Rogue,” is a 608-yard Par 5 that culminates with a green that rests near such a borehole, which belches steam and sulphur. If a more metal hazard exists, let us know. BONUS METAL: The No. 3 hole is named “Broken Old Man.” 


Waitangi Golf Club
“Weeping Waters”

The Maori origin of “Waitangi” isn’t widely known, but it may have something to do with the waterfalls that pour into the Waitangi River from the Bay of Islands. Modern folk often use the phrase “weeping waters” as a reference to the Treaty of Waitangi, where the British and Maori came to the “agreement” over land use (the two sides signed treaties with different terms, allegedly). Waitangi Golf Club is within driving distance (from a tee box) of where the treaty was signed, and hopefully it brings you a bit more happiness than the ancestral Maori.

Pissed that we’re talking about New Zealand and you haven’t even gotten around to Old Zeeland yet (as we learned this weekend, it’s located near Antwerp)? Get at us via @BethpageBlackMetal (Instagram) or @BPBlackMetal (Twitter).  

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