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Wrestling star returns to NZ to mentor next generation of Pasifika, Māori athletes

Aaron ‘Toa’ Henare has been making a name for himself in one of the world's biggest pro-wrestling federations - New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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Aaron Henare is using the pandemic and time out from wrestling to help others. Source: Tagata Pasifika

He began his career in New Zealand in 2013, before snapping up a contract in Japan in 2016. 

But, as the Covid-19 pandemic rages overseas, the Cook Islander has come back home to New Zealand.

He’s now keeping busy mentoring local wrestlers. Henare’s goal is to get more Pasifika and Māori to join him on the world stage.

“How cool would it be to see a Pacific Maori wrestling channel or TV programme?”

Henare said the sport saved his life because it gave him a healthy channel to express anger and aggression.

"Wrestling is what saved me from being one of those Māori [and] Pacific statistics that you see on prison records," he said.

Watch Tagata Pasifika’s full story in the video above.