Kiwi pro wrestler making his name in Japan keen to teach next generation of Māori, Pasifika stars

A Kiwi wrestler who has climbed the ranks of the professional scene in Japan is making sure more young New Zealanders can do the same by coming back to teach them in between his matches.

Aaron Henare, or Toa Henare as he's known in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, gets to fight in places such as Tokyo, Taiwan and Australia in front of crowds as large as 40,000 people.

"They call me Māori Notosho - the Māori fighter," Henare told TVNZ1's Te Karare.

"I've been there since 2016 and went through the dojo system - it's like the old-school Japanese style and we do everything culturally Japanese.

"The example they use to explain it is it's old-school samurai style so the way that samurai used to train back in the day is how we train at the dojo and that's what we're bringing to Aotearoa."

Henare added while most people only know of the Western professional wrestling scene, namely the WWE, Japan's scene is blossoming with it's own style.

"The big difference is that rather than being entertainment we're still pro wrestling and how it was back in the day.

"It's more real, more emotion, more engaging with the fans rather than the network, TV-style drama you see in America."

Henare said the experiences he's had since moving to Japan are helping him now as a mentor.

"I've been going into schools and youth groups talking to Māori and Pasifika students about following their dreams and not being scared to go out of the world and take it.

"But also a big thing that I'm wanting to teach with the aggressive statistics right now is to be teaching everybody and teaching these kids to fight the right battles at the right time for the right reasons. 

"Following a dream is the right reason."

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Aaron Henare, or Toa Henare as he's known in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, competes in front of crowds of up to 40,000 globally. Source: Te Karere

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