Village News

Shooting to the top

23 February 2024

The Waitākere Gardens Fukiya team in Japan

It was the trip of a lifetime for some and, for one resident, their first time out of New Zealand. There was no stopping the Waitākere Gardens Fukiya team as they made their way to Japan to compete on the international stage.

Rising stars among the Fukiya Japanese blow dart community, the talented team were invited to compete at the Kochi area Fukiya Competition, with six competitors, seven supporters and their trainer travelling across the Pacific for the occasion.

The event, which brings together players from all corners of the world, was the third that Waitākere Gardens resident Robyn Stephen had attended.

“It was a real honour to be invited to such a prestigious competition. They were very excited to host us, and we were treated like absolute royalty!” says Robyn.

The traditional art of Fukiya combines the discipline of martial arts, concentration of archery and accuracy of shooting. In a bid to achieve the highest score, competitors use a long pipe to fire a dart at a numbered target using a short, sharp breath.

After playing Fukiya for many years, Robyn and her late husband decided to introduce the unique sport to fellow residents at the village in 2018, and the group hasn’t looked back.

“I thought it would be perfect to introduce into the village as it has so many great wellness benefits and you can play it no matter your physical ability. A resident’s son even plays with us, and he’s a double lung transplant recipient! He says it really helps.”

The team from Waitākere Gardens were the first non-expat group outside of Japan to be formed and it’s a title they’re proud to hold.

“It’s great to see other villages are getting behind the sport too, and hopefully, we will see more in the near future!”

But for now, the Waitākere Gardens team continues to go from strength to strength, and Japan was no different.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better trip! Everyday was blue skies and sunshine, the tournament was incredibly exciting, and we came away with some great results which was the cherry on top!” said Robyn.

Competing against some of the best, Robyn was thrilled to place third in her grade - an incredible achievement.

“The whole trip was an experience for everyone in many different ways. Although riding on the subway with wall-to-wall passengers has really made us value the space around us at home!”

“We’re very keen to have Japan come visit and compete here in New Zealand. That’s the long-term goal. It would be great to show off what we have here and host them for an equally exciting tournament – watch this space.”

The Waitākere Gardens Fukiya team and their supporters

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