The final day of the event was played out in clean 1.0m waves at Manu Bay, Raglan under blazing sun that saw the natural amphitheatre packed full of spectators come finals time.
The pinnacle Billabong Open Men's Division was the climax of the event and the surfing displayed by the four finalists warranted rapturous cheers from the crowd lining the bay.
Santorik opened the final with 6.0 point ride and was on the next wave knocking up a 7.0 point ride and healthy lead within the first five minutes.
However it was O'Connor that notched up an 8.67 on his first ride and then waited for a second good scoring ride which he secured with a series of vertical backhand re-entries to score an 8.33 point ride. The task seemed insurmountable for Santorik now requiring a 9.33 for the win but with five minutes to go he rode the best wave of the final only to fall agonisingly short with a score of 8.73.
The final ended up a two horse race with the two older finalists, Daniel Kereopa (Tainui) and Matt Bennett (Ngai Te Rangi) unable to keep up with the frantic pace of the young boys and having to settle for third and fourth respectively.
Jessica Santorik (Ngati Toa) beat her best friend Kelly Clarkson (Te Arawa) in the final of the Roxy Open Women's Division. Santorik posted 15.17 as her total heat score. The win will have been rewarding after she was eliminated in the semifinals of the Billabong Open Men's Division. Clarkson finished in second place scoring 12.33 ahead of Renee Lee (Nga Puhi) in third.
Tyler Lawson (Kahungunu) took out his first major win of his career in the Quiksilver Under 18 Boys Division. Lawson posted a 15.67 point heat total to outscore Mount Maunganui surfer Todd Doyle in second and double finalist Peri Matenga in third scoring 13.93 and 13.20 respectively. Lawson used his flare to rack up the big points opening the final with an 8.33 getting his fins free on several big backhand turns. Young Taranaki surfer Mahorahora McLeod (Ngati Mutunga) placed fourth in the final.
Peri Matenga (Tainui) put on one of his best performances of the year to win the Rapu Under 16 Boys Division. After surfing to a pair of sevens on his opening two rides he then got the biggest set of the final and proceeded to nail three massive backhand hooks to score 9.17 out of a possible ten points and 'combo' his opponents. Elliot Paerata - Reid (Tu Wharetoa) bit back on his last two waves of the heat with 8.33 and 6.60 but came up short finishing in second place. Waretini Wano (Te Atiawa) placed third scoring 11.90 with Kahu Craig - Ranga (Ngaiterangi) in fourth on 10.50.
Taranaki surfer Jeremy Grainger (Ngati Ruanui) won the Bodyline Over 30 Men's Division coming from behind on his last wave to post a 7.33 point ride and leap frog local surfer and 2007 champion Wayne Cooper (Ngai Tai) who finished in second place. Third placed Shaun Coffey (Ngati Ruahine) scored 8.20 in the final with local surfer Harley Muru (Tainui) finishing in fourth place.
Phill Willoughby (Nga Puhi) claimed two divisions on the final day - the Bodyline Over 35 Men's Division title and the Ocean and Earth Over 40 Men's title. The two sit nicely alongside his victories in the Over 30s (2006) and 35s (2005 and 2006).
In the Bodyline Over 35 Men's Division, Willoughby used his local knowledge to surf two brilliant opening waves of 7.33 and 5.97. Defending champion Shaun Coffey (Ngati Ruahine) went wave for wave with Willoughby however he came up 0.1 points short on each wave and placed second. Nick Rowe (Ngati Porou) placed third in the final with Te-Raihe Rutene (Waikato) placing fourth.
Willoughby also claimed his first Ocean and earth Over 40 Men's title on his home break after backing up his Bodyline Over 35 Men's title. Willoughby only rode two waves but after opening with 5.0 and 9.0 point rides, the win was never threatened. Doug Ranga (Ngai Te Rangi) placed second in the final scoring 9.50 with archrival Ronnie Mayor (Ngai Te Rangi) in third and Pipi Ngaia (Te Atiawa) in fourth.
Earlier in the day, Kereopa took out the Hyundai Longboard Division amassing 16.50 points out of 20 through his modern approach to longboarding. Kereopa was the runaway winner in the final with James Atutahi (Te Arawa) placing second scoring 10.83 points to place second. Martin Matanga and Pipi Ngaia finished in third and fourth respectively.
At the prize giving it was a very modest Martin Matenga that was awarded the prestigious Rapu Mana Award for his work done with Maori surfing. Matenga has worked for several years with the young Maori surfers around the Bay of Plenty. Noticeably, he also the father of two talented young surfers, one of which won the Under 16 Boys Division today - Peri Matenga. Matenga has also attended the many Rangatahi Wananga training camps for young Maori surfers embracing the Maori culture and passing on his wisdom to young surfers.
The Auahi Kore Aotearoa Maori Surfing Titles are held annually and the event has become one of the premier events of the Surfing New Zealand events calendar. Labour Weekend is generally the time of the year that the titles are held.
Please see below for final results from the Auahi Kore Aotearoa Maori Titles completed at Manu Bay, Raglan today (Sunday 24th October).
Billabong Open Men's Division Final
Tim O'Connor (Mnt), 1, Leon Santorik (Ngati Toa), 2, Daniel Kereopa (Tainui), 3, Matt Bennett (Ngaiterangi), 4
Roxy Open Women's Final
Jessica Santorik (Ngati Toa), 1, Kelly Clarkson (Te Arawa), 2, Renee Lee (Nga Puhi), 3
Quiksilver Under 18 Boys Final
Tyler Lawson (Kahungunu), 1, Todd Doyle (Nga Puhi), 2, Peri Matenga (Tainui), 3, Mahorahora McLeod (Ngati Mutunga), 4
Rapu Under 16 Boys Finals
Peri Matenga (Tainui), 1, Elliot Paerata - Reid (Tu Whare Toa), 2, Waretini Wano (Te Atiawa), 3, Kahu Craig - Ranga (Ngaiterangi), 4
Bodyline Over 30 Men's Final
Jeremy Grainger (Ngati Ruanui), 1, Wayne Cooper (Ngai Tai), 2, Shaun Coffey (Ngati Ruahine), 3, Harley Muru (Tainui), 4
Bodyline Over 35 Men's Finals
Phil Willoughby (Nga Puhi), 1, Shaun Coffey (Ngati Ruahine), 2, Nick Rowe (Ngati Porou), 3, Te-Raihe Rutene (Waikato), 4
Hyundai Longboard Final
Daniel Kereopa (Tainui), 1, James Atutahi (Te Arawa), 2, Marty Matenga (Tainui), 3, Pipi Ngaia (Teenui), 4