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Wellington golfers Haupai Puha (Royal Wellington) and Cruize Wawatai (Titahi) hold a one-shot lead halfway through qualifying in the 76th New Zealand Golf Maori national championships at the Taupo Golf Club.
The pair carded rounds of one over par 73 in hard and fast conditions to lead the senior men's championship by one shot from Inia Logan (Cromwell) after round one of the two-round qualifying event for the national match play title which concludes on Friday.
Defending champion Puha is among the favourites to go back-to-back, but will face tough competition as only six strokes separate the top 16 players headed into the final round of qualifying today.
The first two rounds are stroke play and tomorrow the top 16 of each division goes to match play - the whole event is played off the stick.
Meanwhile, Wellington's Te Rongopai Clay, who was part of the team which finished runner-up to Auckland at the women's interprovincial, continued her good form in the senior women's championship.
Clay (Titahi) carded an even par 73 at Centennial on day one to earn a four-stroke lead over Kate Chadwick (Napier). Local Erikah Waiariki (Taupo) carded a seven over par 80 to be in third.
In other divisions, Paul Retemeyer led the junior men, Ray Dearing the intermediate division, Noel Coombe the masters men and Isobel Dick the golden girls.