Whoever said you can’t teach an old Kaumātua new tricks obviously never tangled with Waipareira stalwart Phil Paki.
For most men Uncle Phil’s age (he won’t say exactly how old he is), sporting accomplishments are distant memories and things of the past.
But since taking up lawn bowls less than two years ago, this has kept the Waipareira Kaumātua and Board member young at heart.
If Uncle Phil is not at Hoani Waititi Marae, or the courts supporting the whānau, or the Henderson Police station, where he is also the kaumātua or at the RSA, chances are you’ll find him practising at the Oratia Bowling Club.
His dedication to training was rewarded recently when he won the Junior Singles Trophy, a category for players with less than five years’ experience. He triumphed over opponents with twice his experience. Last week at the club’s prize giving, Uncle Phil was presented with his trophy.
“I’ve always been sporty and like to be competitive, no matter what I’m doing,” Uncle Phil says. “Age should not be a barrier and I’ve certainly never let it stand in my way.”
While there’s no doubting Uncle Phil’s sporting pedigree – he played in the winning Ponsonby Ponies Rugby League team that in 1973 won all major Auckland trophies and also beat the legendary Cronulla Sharks, it’s also his competitive nature that keeps him motivated.
Whether you challenge him at lawn bowls or tiddly winks, he’s a fierce competitor and will always say ‘don’t tell me, show me.’
Add to the mix two shoulder reconstructions, a couple of knee operations, and Uncle Phil Paki could be mistaken as the $6 million Māori.
“I know there are a lot of kaumātua who just want to sit around,” Uncle Phil says.
“I’m not one of them and I like to think participating in sport, is what keeps us young.”
Ka pai Uncle Phil and congratulations on your Singles Trophy.