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Auckland rangatahi's extraordinary 2020: first-time author, kapa haka coach and school's first Māori dux

Ngāti Ranginui and Ngātiwai descendant Anthony Pita spent 2020 tutoring a kapa haka, self-publishing a novel and becoming the first Māori dux for Rosmini College.

Sharon Pita says her son Anthony has always set impossible goals and dreamed big. So, it’s no surprise to her that Anthony wants to win an Oscar and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Source: Te Karere

By Bronson Perich

Titled The Harder We Try, Pita’s first publication is, in the 17-year-old’s words, a "coming of age sports book". The hero of the story is a taiohi Māori who survives cancer and has set his sights on playing professional rugby.

“It’s very deep, it’s very philosophical,” he says.

“It’s very fun, it’s sarcastic and it’s me.”

The very first copy was printed with a koha from his mother Sharon, who had no idea she was paying for her son’s first novel. His father Morris didn’t know about the book until it arrived in the mail.

The first and second print runs of the book were paid for by online pre-sales.

The self-published author has been writing since he was in primary school. At the age of seven, he wrote a comic-strip.

Anthony sharing a hongi with his koro after he was named dux at Rosmini College. Source: Te Karere

Sharon Pita says her son has always set impossible goals and dreamed big. So it’s no surprise to her that Anthony wants to win an Oscar and a Nobel Prize in Literature.

“If someone doubts me or doesn’t think I can do it, that makes me so determined to work harder and smarter than everybody else to get that goal,” Pita says.

“I really want to branch out, working with someone like Taika Waititi.”

Seeing Waititi win his Oscar for Jojo Rabbit was an inspiration for the young creative.

An equally proud father, Morris Pita recounts how Anthony put his hand up to tutor kapa haka with his old primary school, St Leo’s Catholic School, and took them to North Shore competitions. His younger brother is expected to take over the team soon.

Anthony Pita is planning on studying law, psychology and te reo in 2021 and would love to have The Harder We Try translated into te reo.