Black Cap in the making

Eighteen-year-old Tamati Clarke of Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi has a sporting pedigree. His grandfather Rauhuia Reuben Clarke was a Māori All Black (prop), so was his father Te Rau Clarke and Uncle Teina Clarke (both loose forwards) and his aunty Te Aroha Keenan was a Silver Fern. But it’s Tamati’s success on the cricket pitch that’s exciting the whānau.

Tamati has been playing cricket since he was six years old and as a teenager represented Counties Manukau and Northern Districts. It was Tamati’s exceptional abilities at cricket as well as other sports that earned him a scholarship to St Kentigern College in Auckland.

“I was 12 when my principal told my grandfather at school athletics day that I was talented and suggested I was a good candidate to apply to St Kents,” says Tamati.

Earlier this year Tamati represented New Zealand at the Under 19 World Cricket Cup in Malaysia. Te Puni Kōkiri supported him in his efforts to represent New Zealand. Being selected for the New Zealand Under 19 team has been a career highlight so far for Tamati.

“It’s a really cool experience wearing the New Zealand gear. You know you’ve been rewarded because of your talent. I enjoyed getting amongst the other international teams and I’m looking forward to future opportunities.”

This accomplishment has delighted his entire whānau and follows the success of his discus throwing cousin Te Rina Keenan, who represented New Zealand at the Youth Olympic Games 2007.

“I’m over the moon and my dad would have been really rapt with Tamati because he recognised his talent and potential a long time ago,” says his father Te Rau Clarke, who works for Te Puni Kōkiri.

“Actually he’s a pretty good rugby player. But it doesn’t matter what sports he plays – we know he has the talent to make it all the way,” he says. “We are extremely proud of him and his achievements and look forward to the future.”

Tamati’s future sights are set on making the Black Caps, like his idols Chris Cairns and Andrew Symonds.

Highlights and Statistics

Batting style: Left-hand Batsman

Bowling style: Slow Left Arm

Best bowling figures: In an Under 17s tournament in Gisborne in 2005 Tamati took seven wickets for 12 runs from nine overs in the semi final.

Scored first representative century (110) for Counties Manukau Under 15s against Poverty Bay, in Taupō in 2004.