Past to Present

The Early Days - compiled by Master Paul McPhail
The New Millennium - compiled by Mr Vince Pygott
New Zealand punches above its weight - compliled by Mr Brett Kraiger
2010 - 2024 - compiled by Mr DJ Iotua

The early days

Many martial arts were introduced into New Zealand by military servicemen returning home after receiving their training overseas. Judo (considered as more of a sport rather than a martial art), was the first to form a national organisation in Easter 1957. Karate was started in the early 60’s by pioneers such as Jack Simms (Auckland) and John Jarvis (Wellington). The first Korean art to start was Tang Soo Do, which began in a Petone garage in 1965. Al Powers and Frank Bauer had learnt Tang Soo Do in Korea as a part of their armed forces service. The art was originally known as Su Bak Do and was basically the same as Shotokan Karate. Al Powers moved the club to the Petone Junior School in 1967.

The first groups of Taekwon-Do exponents got together in 1969.

One group was at Palmerston North’s Massey University under a Malaysian, Raymond Yap who trained others on the campus being mainly his countrymen.

The other group was in Auckland under John Jarrett, an Australian who was one of the early pioneers of Taekwon-Do in Australia. John Jarrett trained in both Malaysia and Vietnam while on a tour of duty with the R.A.A.F.

Jarrett’s group became the first public Taekwon-Do club with the arrival of three Malaysian students, Lim, Mak & Yeoh. With encouragement and help from John Jarrett they started a class in April of 1970 at the premises of the then Auckland Judo Academy. They began with a membership of about thirty people. Shortly after Charles Wee started another class at Selwyn College in Auckland but the two clubs soon merged into one. The Malaysian students were soon posted to different parts of the country. Mak & Yeoh went to Wellington, Wee remained in Auckland and Willie Lim moved to Hamilton and opened a club at Waikato University in April 1971.

The first club in Palmerston North began in 1970. Norman Ng, a naturalised New Zealand citizen, learnt Taekwon-Do from Low Koon Lim when he was lecturing at the University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpar. In December 1969, after three years training, he was awarded the 1st degree black belt by Gen Choi's right hand man Master Nam Tae Hi , then returned home and settled in Palmerston North. Raymond Yap made contact with Mr Ng and invited him to take some trainings at Massey in March 1970. At one of these sessions he met with Jack Simms who was visiting from Auckland and conducting Karate classes. In March 1970 a group of local Chinese approached him to take them for lessons. In August 1970 the club was opened to members of the public and the Palmerston North Taekwon-Do club was born.

Between 1971 and 1974 Norman Ng and Willie Lim began to make contact and discuss the idea of getting together to conduct gradings. Norman Ng had been grading his own members until this time and Willie Lim had periodically invited overseas examiners for his gradings. They did get together occasionally, but in the main kept contact through correspondence only.

Mr Norman Ng Mr Willie Lim
Mr Norman Ng and Mr Willie Lim

In 1974 servicemen returning home from overseas and students studying here began opening clubs. These included Ben Mose (Upper Hutt/Porirua), Franky Yeo (Victoria University), Padre Tairea (Auckland), Tere Maorikava (Auckland), Evan Davidson (Wellington) and John Tay (Wellington). John Tay trained in Singapore and started a club in the Petone Judo premises, calling on the services of Al Powers (Tang Soo Do) to assist him. He later started the Wellington One club.

Evan Davidson had learnt Taekwon-Do in Singapore. He returned from his army training and formed the Miramar Taekwon-Do club in 1974. He established contact with the other instructors throughout the country and it was largely due to his enthusiasm that clubs started getting together for trainings and demonstrations.

Click on the image below to see a letter which was written in 1975 and shows Norman Ng replying to his request for a training session together.

These early photos show a grading and outdoor training in Palmerston North.

A Korean student, Lee Sung Yoon, was also instrumental in bringing many of the Taekwon-Do people into contact with each other. Lee, who later became the Vice President of Han Nam University in Korea, was a 3rd dan (Korean Taekwon-Do Association) who did not actually have a club but assisted local instructors in any way he could. It was he who rang Evan Davidson informing him that a Korean, Young Ku Yun, was coming to Hamilton.

Young Ku Yun

Young Ku Yun

Young Ku Yun was a 6th dan international instructor who had set up in Sydney in 1971. He had learnt Tae Su Do in Korea and came to know of General Choi Hong Hi while serving his National Army Service. He learnt the Taekwon-Do patterns and became a member of a demonstration team touring Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong. He had planned to move to the United States but was unable to get a visa so decided to settle in Australia.

Willie Lim had organised Young Ku Yun to come to Hamilton for a grading and students from Palmerston North and Wellington were invited to watch. At this time Norman Ng was looking for an examiner to grade his 1st gups, Ian McDonald and Robert Moar. Unfortunately an amicable arrangement was unable to be reached. However this opportunity provided a meeting between Young Ku Yun and Norman Ng, a meeting that would begin communication between Yun and the New Zealand instructors.

1975 also saw the arrival of World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in New Zealand. The WTF was formed in 1973 as a rival organisation to General Choi’s International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). Lee Jung Nam had been an examiner in Singapore (he graded Evan Davidson and Ben Mose as coloured belts), and he arrived in New Zealand to set up clubs under the WTF.

The Korean Embassy contacted Evan Davidson and arranged a meeting with Lee Jung Nam and some other members. Lee wanted assistance to get established. However Evan Davidson did not want to be involved as it meant learning new patterns and changing to WTF. Lee’s influence on other members including Ben Mose, Sonny Ooi and the chairman of the New Zealand Martial Arts Council, Graham Dellow, meant he was eventually sponsored to live in New Zealand, thereby setting up WTF. In December, Young Ku Yun came to Wellington and apparently had quite a heated discussion with Lee Jung Nam at a Wellington hotel. Although no-one knows what was said, it was all in high volume Korean!

ATA BadgeBy this time Young Ku Yun had established good contact with local instructors and had arranged to come to conduct gradings in Wellington and Palmerston North and also run a seminar at Victoria University. Instructors then began teaching Young Ku Yun’s style of Taekwon-Do.

By early 1976 all ITF clubs in New Zealand were unified under the Australian Taekwon-Do Academy (ATA). However Willie Lim and Charles Wee (Auckland University) then became independent. In a letter to Evan Davidson he explained that he was not happy with some of Young Ku Yun’s grading results, some of the politics, and that he would prefer to organise his own examiners as he needed them.

On 26 May 1976 General Choi Hong Hi visited New Zealand to meet instructors.

Gradings continued throughout 1976 and some members attended training in Sydney. In 1977 most of the New Zealand instructors attended a week-long seminar in Sydney.

In 1977 demonstrations were planned to promote Taekwon-Do. Regional and national committees were set up to organise them. A team from Australia assisted with the demonstrations. They were held at venues such as the Palmerston North Opera House in January 1978.

In conjunction with the demonstrations, the first training camp was held at Massey University from January 9-14 1978. The first South Pacific Taekwon-Do Championships were held in Wellington on the 22nd January with competing teams from New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. General Choi Hong Hi was in attendance and promoted Young Ku Yun to 7th dan.

In 1978, an Australian, Bernie Korent moved to Auckland to establish a national headquarters for Taekwon-Do. It was officially opened on 17 August 1978 and located on the first floor of the Eden Buildings, 117 Albert Street, Auckland. The first goal was to run a National tournament and on 19 August members from all over New Zealand gathered for this event which was held at the Auckland Y.M.C.A.

Unfortunately the national headquarters was to close by the end of November 1978 and Bernie Korent returned to Australia.

ITFNZ is Formed

Between 1979 and 1981 some noteable events took place. The first Regional Taekwon-Do tournament was held in Palmerston North on 16 June 1979 and later that year Young Ku Yun moved his Headquarters from Sydney to Brisbane.

In January of 1981 New Zealand members travelled to Brisbane to attend the second South Pacific Taekwon-Do Championships in the presence of General Choi and Master C.K.Choi. The tournament was preceded with a week long seminar attended by members from New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Indonesia. A meeting was held and General Choi asked all instructors to return to their countries, form national bodies and register them as Incorporated Societies.

So on Saturday 28 March 1981 the following members attended a meeting at the Burma Lodge in Wellington to form the International Taekwon-Do Foundation (NZ) Inc.:

Padre Tairea (Waiouru), John Moran (Stokes Valley), Mike Ratana (Upper Hutt), Tere Maorikava (Auckland), Wayne Joseph (Wellington), Harry Hemana (Upper Hutt), Francis Ting (Wellington), Mark Cotton (Upper Hutt), Nick Moke, (Upper Hutt), Russell McBride (Upper Hutt), Tufa Fau (Wellington), Ian Matheson (Wellington), Roy Tapuni (Upper Hutt), George Taylor (Wellington), Norman Ng (Palmerston North), Evan Davidson (Khandallah), Richard Hall (Palmerston North), Sonny Ooi (Wellington), Francis Karauti (Miramar), Peter Graham (Miramar), Paul McPhail (Palmerston North), Paul Meyrick (Miramar).

For the name of the national body the following motions were put. They are in order of preference.

  • International Taekwon-Do Federation of New Zealand (Wayne Joseph)
  • New Zealand Taekwon-Do Alliance (John Moran)
  • Associated Taekwon-Do New Zealand (Ian Matheson)

The name ‘International Taekwon-Do Federation of New Zealand’ was not accepted by the Registrar of Incorporated Societies as it was too close to the name ‘New Zealand Taekwondo Federation’ already registered by the WTF. Evan Davidson came up with the idea of changing ‘Federation’ to ‘Foundation’ so the initials ITF could be retained, and this was accepted.

The first executive committee of the Foundation were:

  • President Bill McPhail
  • Secretary Rocky Rounthwaite
  • Treasurer Norman Ng
  • Vice President Peter Graham
  • Asst. Secretary Paul McPhail
  • Asst. Treasurer Wayne Joseph
  • Regional Reps:
    Auckland Tere Maorikava, Wellington Harry Hemana, Central Districts Padre Tairea, South Island Evan Davidson

On the 10th of October 1981 the Foundation held its first official National Tournament in Palmerston North. This has become an annual event. The Palmerston North club had successfully run a local tournament prior to this, so they were chosen to organise the nationals because of this experience.

In the committee’s first year in office they undertook to, and successfully sent, a black belt team to the Asian Championships in Indonesia, early 1982. All clubs were asked to donate money to finance the trip as there were no funds to draw on at this early stage. The tournament turned out to be a poorly run affair with some suspect judging. Things went from bad to worse when some of the team received death threats. This pressure on the Indonesians to win at all costs was something the New Zealand team had also witnessed in Brisbane in 1981. The Indonesians would borrow trophies from other countries to pose for their team photos!

Wellington was by far the strongest region for Taekwon-Do at this time. Padre Tairea had moved from Waiuru and set up a huge club in Porirua. Evan Davidson opened a second branch, and clubs in Upper Hutt, Stokes Valley and Wellington Central enjoyed large memberships. In contrast, Auckland had only a few clubs mainly in the South, which would eventually become independent, leaving no clubs in Auckland by 1982.

The man to turn this around was Graeme (Rocky) Rounthwaite. When the Otahuhu club withdrew from Young Ku Yun, he set up a club in Pakuranga. His larger-than-life personality and enthusiasm, coupled with new teaching ideas from his wife Trish, met with instant success and the club had 100 members and a waiting list — unheard of at that time. The club was very innovative and was later to produce more black belts than any other, setting up the expansion of the Auckland region.

The Foundation took a year or so to recover from expenses incurred from sending the team to Indonesia, but on 21st August 1983 another team was sent to Fiji for the 3rd South Pacific Taekwon-Do Championships. This was the first international tournament under full contact rules, and there were many exciting matches.

The next official trip away for New Zealanders was again to Brisbane. This time to a seminar conducted by Master Park Jung Tae, 8th dan in May 1984. At the completion of the seminar the Kiwis were asked to organise an international tournament in New Zealand to be held the following year. This was to be the Sharp International and instructors returned home to plan the event.

The tournament organiser was Charles Birch, a Miramar member who had experience organising international hockey tournaments. In many ways he helped to get things running well within New Zealand. As well as achieving national television coverage and a major sponsor for the tournament, he also established organisational systems which were in place for many years, such as the regional "cells". Others who made exceptional contributions towards the tournament were Harry Hemana, Sonny Ooi and Steve Mulholland. Seven countries attended the tournament including Japan and the United States. The ITF Vice President, Chon Jin Shik, donated $10 000 to ITFNZ which really enabled the Foundation to make some headway.

In August 1986 members attended "Camp Taekwon-Do" in Colorado USA (USTF). The author and Rocky Rounthwaite led a team of 14 to the Rocky Mountains for a week long camp; and a chance to renew acquaintances made at the Sharp tournament. The team were exposed to many new ideas including theory testing which was later introduced into the ITFNZ syllabus.

Later in the year ITFNZ held its first national black belt championships in Auckland, followed by a black belt seminar at Massey University.

January 23rd 1988 saw the second national training camp at Massey University, which was then made an annual event. 1988 saw members travelling to Brisbane for seminars with Young Ku Yun.

A Major Turning Point

1989 was a major turning point in the history of Taekwon-Do in New Zealand. ITFNZ until now under the Young Ku Yun banner, was to become independent, and it would take another book to explain in detail the reasons for all this happening. The events that took place were to split the organisation apart. Each and every instructor had to decide which way they were to go. Young Ku Yun’s exit from the ITF, the inevitable introduction of new patterns, coupled with financial concerns, had caused an explosion of discontent within the ranks. A letter was composed by the executive committee to address the situation. Unfortunately this controversial letter was leaked to Young Ku Yun in its early draft form and he replied by expelling four of the executive committee members: Peter Graham, Steve Mulholland, Paul McPhail and Viv Holmes.

The Foundation decided to hold a Special General Meeting with a motion put to disassociate ITFNZ from Young Ku Yun. The meeting turned out to be a valuable learning experience for the executive as far as tightening up voting procedures for the future. At this extraordinary meeting held at the Waipuna Lodge in Auckland, many heated arguments took place followed by a bizarre vote. The pro-Foundation instructors followed the rules and lodged votes according to their current active membership. The pro-Yun camp lodged their votes based on their life membership numbers supplied to them by Young Ku Yun via the Waipuna lodge foyer payphone 5 minutes before the meeting. The Yun camp had played a card the executive had no defence against so the votes were counted. Unbelievably the votes ended up dead even and the meeting disbanded with no firm outcome. The final result of all this was that the Foundation retained two thirds of the membership. The majority of instructors supported the executive and those who had been expelled. In the end, most opted for a New Zealand organisation run by New Zealanders rather than one controlled from overseas.

Into the '90s

A massive task lay ahead for the Foundation. A new logo had to be designed, badges, forms, membership cards, certificates and a mountain of new paperwork produced. New examiners and sub-committees were appointed.

The Foundation launched into 1990 with a new enthusiasm which saw 125 members participate in the opening of the Commonwealth Games, and a national demonstration team touring throughout the country.

The year concluded with a team travelling to the United States to train and meet with General Choi Hong Hi and re-establish links with the ITF. This was successful and General Choi and Master C.E.Sereff, President of the United States Taekwon-Do Federation (USTF), were invited to New Zealand to conduct a seminar in January of 1991.

With the help and support of Master Sereff, ITFNZ was able to put in place systems for examining senior dans. In January of 1992 Palmerston North hosted a World Camp and senior dan grading with participants from Australia, USA and Holland.

New Zealand then had a third team attend the USTF camp in Colorado in July 1993 and in October hosted an ITF training course in Auckland conducted by General Choi and Master Sereff.

1994 saw ITFNZ send a team to the ITF World Champs held in Malaysia with Mark Rounthwaite bringing home a bronze medal in patterns.

The Foundation, under the Presidency of Mr Peter Graham, continued with its philosophy of trying to have as many people as possible benefit from its endeavours by bringing guest instructors to New Zealand to teach, motivate and update skills. With this in mind Master Tom McCullum attended the national camp in Palmerston North in January 1995.

The late 1990's saw more interaction between the various Taekwon-Do groups, in particular with the emergence of the Taekwondo Union - a break-away WTF group. The late 90's also saw a move to have teams sent to the ITF World Championships following our first exposure to competition at this level in 1994. Teams were sent to Russia in 1997 (Womens Team Bronze medal), Argentina in 1999 (Mens Power Breaking Bronze).

In 1998 General Choi again visited New Zealand for a seminar, accompanied by his son Master Choi Jung Hwa and Master Tom MacCallum. Later that year a team travelled to Maui, Hawaii for an International Instructors course and senior grading conducted by Grand Master CE Sereff. We also had a junior team compete in Texas USA.

The New Millennium

It was during this stable period when many first time events took place.

The new millennium got off to an exciting start with New Zealand hosting a World Camp and, for the first time, a Junior Team was sent to the ITF World Championships in North Korea. (The team returned with a bronze in individual sparring.)

In February 2001 the New Zealand Taekwon-Do Academy, headed by Mr Harry Hemana, merged with ITFNZ, bringing together the two major ITF Taekwon-Do organisations in New Zealand. July saw a team representing New Zealand sent to the 12th World Championships held in Italy.

In September the very first New Zealand Instructors' Conference was held at Tui Ridge in Rotorua. It was very successful, with over 100 instructors and assistant instructors from throughout the country coming together to discuss the future direction of their organisation. The Conference kicked off with the largest senior dan grading New Zealand has ever had, with seven candidates grading to 4th dan. It was conducted by Master Leong Wai Meng (ITF Board member in charge of the Oceania region) who was the guest instructor for the Conference.

February 2002 started a new series of motivational seminars for all grades, called “Stripes on Tour”, conducted by newly promoted 4th dans. This became an annual event kicking off the start of each year with senior dans conducting seminars throughout the country.

The very first Oceania Championships was held in March in Canberra, Australia. New Zealand sent a small team over, and Mark Trotter returned as Grand Champion.

During the beginning of 2002, ITFNZ was approached by a group of instructors belonging to an organisation called Pacific Sun. Over the next few months various members of the Auckland North Region discussed with them the possibility of joining ITFNZ. At a meeting held in Orewa the Pacific Sun instructors decided to join. Present at the meeting were George Konia, Ricky Lawrence, Vince Pygott, Shirley Pygott and Andrew Niven. In May, ITFNZ gained three new clubs in Northland, becoming the most northerly ITFNZ clubs.

On the 15th June our Founder, General Choi Hong Hi, passed away, a very sad occasion for all Taekwon-Do practitioners the world over. He was due to conduct a seminar here later that year.

In September we hosted the Aussie Invitational Tournament.

ITFNZ’s commitment to the ITF

November saw another event that became an annual tradition: the first "Stripes 1 to 1" seminar. New Zealand was coming of age. For the first time there were enough home-grown 4th dans and above to have a senior dan seminar. It was at this meeting that the senior dans confirmed the Executive Committee’s earlier opinion that ITFNZ would align itself with the ITF under the leadership of Acting President Mr Russell MacLellan.

The year concluded with ITFNZ sending a team to the Junior World Championships in Puerto Rico, where for the first time New Zealand place 5th overall (winning two gold, two silver and four bronze medals). Our first ever gold medallists at a Junior World Championship were Daniel Kerr, Kyle Caldwell, and Mark Trotter.

While all this was going on, Mr Norman Ng (the pioneer of Taekwon-Do in New Zealand) took over the presidency of ITFNZ (succeeding Mr Peter Graham who held the position for 13 years, and Mr Lawrence Mantjika). While in the presidency Mr Ng began discussions with other Taekwon-Do organisations, both ITF and WTF. The New Zealand Taekwon-Do Council (NZTC) was born. The goal of the NZTC was to unite Taekwon-Do in New Zealand for the purpose of obtaining government and Olympic recognition. On many occasions the New Zealand Taekwon-Do Federation (NZTF), the Taekwon-Do Union of New Zealand (TUNZ) and ITFNZ got together to draw up a constitution and set of rules to govern the council. Then at a meeting with the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on 24th May 2002, when delegates of the three organisations congregated (Paul McPhail (ITFNZ), Glenn McGill (NZTF), John Lee (NZTF), John Davies (NZOC), Mike Hannah (TUNZ), Vince Pygott (ITFNZ) and Mark Tester (TUNZ)) to sign the final documents, it became clear that John Lee was not going to co-operate; so the possibility of obtaining Hillary Commission and Olympic recognition was lost for the time being.

Not deterred by this for long, in 2003 ITFNZ put a case together to take to Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), a new body taking over from the Hillary Commission. With this change of format we tried again. Mr Greg Skinner (Coaching and Selections Director) went to Wellington to speak with SPARC officials and succeeded in obtaining government recognition.

Other notable events to take place in 2003 were the National Seminar held in January at Massey (the site of the original National Camps) once again organised by Mr Mike Lowe (Central Districts Regional Director). The guest instructor was Master Michael Daher (the new ITF Board member in charge of the Oceania region) from AITF in Sydney, Australia. It was during this event that ITFNZ commemorated General Choi Hong Hi’s death by unveiling a plaque and planting a kauri tree. (This is most significant as the kauri is a symbol of strength and longevity living for 2,000 - 3,000 years.)

The Senior World Championships in June 2003 were held in Poland. The New Zealand team came in 3rd place overall, bring home three gold medals (Gray Patterson, Carl van Roon plus the Women’s Team) one silver and three bronze. To top it off, Gray Patterson won Male Grand Champion.

ITFNZ was contacted by another group of instructors who wanted to join us, this time from Rhee Taekwon-Do. Paul McPhail, Mahesh Bhana, and Sue Breen, along with others held discussions with Trevor Harbrow and his instructors. In July, ITFNZ gained five new clubs and 300 members. From 8th - 10th October, Master Trân Triêu Quân, the newly elected President of the ITF, visited NZ for discussions with the Executive Committee and senior members on the future of the ITF. Present for the discussion were Tanya Katene (Treasurer), Sue Breen (Counties Manukau Regional Director), Andrew Niven (Auckland North Regional Director), Paul McPhail (Techniques Director), Peter Graham (former President) and Mahesh Bhana (Senior Examiner).

In November, the Bay of Plenty became the location of ITFNZ's first National Juniors' Camp. It was a very successful camp, reaching its maximum of 70 kids within weeks of the applications going out. This camp became another of ITFNZ’s many annual events.

Notable in 2004 was ITFNZ achieving 3rd place position at the Junior World Championships held in Italy. The Junior Team won three gold, two silver, and eight bronze medals, and the female team came home best overall.

ITFNZ comes of age

From 6th - 8th August 2004, New Zealand came of age at its first International Instructors' Course since the passing of General Choi. Master Hector Marano (8th dan, ITF Technical & Instruction Chairman), Master Pablo Trajtenberg (8th dan, ITF Senior Vice President), Master Wim Bos (8th dan, Tournament & Umpire Chairman), and Master Trân Triêu Quân (8th dan, President of ITF) all came to conduct the seminar. It was very well received by over 100 participants. To conclude the seminar, the four masters conducted a senior dan grading, at which New Zealand gained its very first masters, Master Evan Davidson and Master Paul McPhail.

The year concluded with the 2nd Oceania Championships held in Auckland on 23rd - 24th October, and another Rhee Taekwon-Do club joined ITFNZ, this time from Rotorua.

In 2005, New Zealand slipped one place to 4th overall at the Senior World Championships in Germany. The team won two gold, two silver and four bronze medals.

In November 2005, ITFNZ hosted its second Instructors’ Conference for instructors and assistant instructors. Master Davidson and Master McPhail conducted their first senior dan grading at the event, promoting two 5th dans and two 4th dans. Over 100 attendees were present to train, learn and discuss the future direction of ITFNZ.

New Zealand punches above its weight on the International Stage

2006 saw ITFNZ representing itself well internationally. June saw the 3rd Oceania Championships in Sydney, with the New Zealanders returning with 69% of the available medals as well as best overall male and best overall female. This was followed by a fantastic performance in July at the 8th Junior World Championships in Honduras. New Zealand placed 4th, bringing home 3 Gold, 4 Silver, and 10 Bronze medals.

In August the Master Pablo Tratjenberg, Master Hector Marano (both from Argentina) and Master Bos (Italy) returned to New Zealand for the International Instructors Course, held in Palmerston North. This time they were joined by the ITF President, Master Trân Triêu Quân who taught aspects of Taekwon-Do Philosophy. The weekend culminated with a senior dan grading, with Mr Steve Pellow grading to 6th Dan and Mr Grant Evans to 4th Dan.

The 2006 ITFNZ National Tournament also had an international flavour, with special guest Grand Master C E (Chuck) Sereff visiting. The tournament was special in other ways as well. It was the source of much of the footage for the first series of Taekwon-Do Television which was aired on regional and national television in November 2006, and the tournament itself ended in a thrilling dead-heat between the Auckland North and Counties Manukau teams.

At the end of the tournament, footage was taken of the ITFNZ membership inviting the rest of the world to come to New Zealand - as a part of what would become the successful bid for the World Championships in 2011.

And continuing the international theme, in October Master McPhail and Mr Banicevich represented ITFNZ at the 2nd ITF Leadership Camp in Benidorm, Spain.

2007 started with a senior dan grading in February, with Messrs Breese, Brown, Snelling and Trotter gaining 4th Dan, and Messrs Ballard, Campbell, Mantjika and Tolley gaining 5th Dan.

During 2007 a number of ITFNZ members were invited to instruct ITF Taekwon-Do in South Korea, which is a WTF stronghold. Mr Carl van Roon led the way in February, with Mr Gwyn Brown, Mr Brendan Doogan, Ms Chris Morton Mr Sean Hammond and Ms Estee Spiers following behind.

The 1st June 2007 saw quite possibly ITFNZ’s biggest moment in its history to date. At the ITF Congress in Quebec delegates voted to accept New Zealand’s bid to host the 2011 World Championships. This was the culmination of a huge amount of work put in by the bid team, headed up by Mr Mark Banicevich and Mr Carl Matthews. While Auckland was originally going to be the venue for the World Champs this was later changed to Wellington thanks to the amazing assistance offered by the Wellington City Council.

A large New Zealand team attended the 15th ITF World Championships in Quebec, Canada, with the Senior and Junior championships combined into one event. New Zealand placed 3rd in both the Senior and Junior championships winning 7 Gold, 9 Silver and 9 Bronze medals.

In November, 21 IV Dans and above descended on Taupo for the first Stripes 1-to-1 seminar in three years. The idea of these seminars is to help retain the unity and friendship of the most senior members in ITFNZ, and to get their input into the direction of ITFNZ. This year a number of important changes were discussed, including the introduction of a new self defence syllabus and proposed changes to the structure of ITFNZ to ensure the organisation moves strongly toward the future.

Also in November Master Evan Davidson, ITFNZ President, was appointed as the Chair of the ITF Ethics & Discipline Committee.

Renowned Taekwon-Do coach Master Willy Van de Mortel visited New Zealand twice in 2007 to run Development and Coaching Seminars in June and again in December.

Significant changes in the organisation

2008 kicked off with a bang, with a National Camp at Tui Ridge in Rotorua attracting 160 ITFNZ members ranging from White Belt to Master Instructor. As usual at large National events there was a Senior Dan grading, this time seeing three members promoted to 4th Dan. (Mr Ian Walton, Mr René Kunz, and Dr Thu Thach).

The camp was notable for a couple of significant events. Firstly the new ITFNZ self-defence syllabus, developed by Mr Steve Pellow and Master Paul McPhail, was finally introduced to the eagerly awaiting membership. Secondly the instructors and senior members present were introduced to the proposed new ITFNZ structure.

The introduction of the new self-defence syllabus continued throughout February with Master McPhail and Mr Pellow touring the country with a series of Instructor Training Courses to ensure that all ITFNZ instructors were up to speed. This included the distribution of a DVD outlining the syllabus.

In recognition of a need for a more professional organisation, ITFNZ adopted a new structure at an Extraordinary General Meeting on the 9th March 2008. The Executive was disbanded and replaced with the ITFNZ Council, a Board of Directors (three elected and three appointed), a CEO, and the CEO’s support staff. The appointment of the first board was completed in May, with the inaugural board comprising Mr Dennis Burns (Chairman), Mr Terry Harkin, Mr Krishna Reddy, Mr Mahesh Bhana, Mr Peter Graham and Mr Vince Pygott.

Also in March, New Zealand hosted the 4th Oceania Championships, with New Zealand taking out many of the Best Overall trophies including the four black belt trophies, the two adult gup belt trophies, and being in a tie for the junior trophies as well!

In a sign of ITFNZ’s developing maturity and expertise, seven of our top athletes gained recognition through the receipt of $15,000 performance enhancement grants from SPARC.

July 2008 saw the return of the International Instructors Course, with Master Clint Norman (Canada) joining the more familiar faces of Master Tratjenberg and Master Marano at Tauranga.

The senior dan grading was a very special event, with the promotion to 7th Dan of Mr Mahesh Bhana – New Zealand’s third-ever master instructor. Also promoted were Mr Salton to 6th Dan, Mr Graham, Mr Raukura and Ms Young to 5th Dan and Ms Galpin, Mr Konia and Mr Matsuoka to 4th Dan.

In November, 22 of New Zealand’s most senior members and Master Michael Daher (Australia) gathered for the Stripes 1-to-1 seminar for a weekend of training, discussion and socialisation. The technical committee met and approved a number of significant changes to syllabus and grading requirements. Mrs Pygott introduced the new Mini-Kids syllabus.

At the start of 2009, instructors were once again treated to Instructor Training Courses. Mr Pellow continued where he left off in 2008 and introduced the ground self defence syllabus for black belts. Mrs Shirley Pygott introduced the Mini-Kids programme – a syllabus designed specifically for 4 – 8 year olds.
In March Master Willy Van de Mortel returned to New Zealand’s shores for a series of sparring seminars throughout the country.

Six of ITFNZ’s top athletes again received Performance Enhancement Grants, four of whom also received Prime Ministers Scholarship awards. (Messrs Carl van Roon, Mark Trotter, Kane Baigent and Ms Carolina Dillen). Mr van Roon and Ms Dillen performed a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister at the official ceremony.

Proof of ITFNZ’s continuing growth was shown in the August 2009 grading round, which was the largest in ITFNZ history - for the first time ever breaking through the 1000 mark! 1008 members graded throughout New Zealand.

On the 31st October the Stripes 1-to-1 seminar once again saw many of the country’s senior members converge for a weekend of training, discussion and planning. This year Mr Dennis Burns, the Chairman of the Board, was invited to share the board’s vision for ITFNZ, and to hear directly from the seniors. Many exciting ideas were discussed, and they really show the dedication the senior members have for ensuring the long-term success of ITFNZ.

The New Zealand team travelled to Argentina in December for the 16th World Championships. New Zealand placed second in the world, with 13 Gold, 10 Silver, 9 Bronze, and Best Overall Senior Male (Mr Carl van Roon).

All the while, the newly formed board was hard at work preparing ITFNZ for the future, strengthening ties with SPARC and developing a new brand image for ITFNZ. The board was also working hard on bedding down the new structure and finding the best people to run the organisation, culminating in the appointment of Mr Mike Thompson as CEO and Mr Shaun Tolley as Operations Executive. Mr Thompson was most recently CEO of Squash New Zealand and saw ITFNZ as an ideal opportunity to be part of a new and exciting environment, where he could utilise the skills he has developed working in the sport sector at school, regional and national level.


In January 2010, the ITF President Grand Master Trân Triêu Quân was working in Haiti when it was struck by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. Grand Master Trân was killed when the hotel he was staying in collapsed. There was a memorial service held in Canada, at which ITFNZ was represented by Master Evan Davidson.

The “three masters” returned to New Zealand for the 50th International Instructors Course in March. However this time two of them were now Grand Masters... or so we thought. To everybody’s surprise, including his own, Master Wim Bos (Italy) was promoted to 9th Dan at the start of the seminar!

As per usual there was a senior dan grading, but this one was a little more special than usual. We witnessed Master Michael Daher (Australia, OTF President) grade to his 8th Dan and Messrs James Rimmer (NZ) and Peter Barbour (Australia) to 7th Dan. Mr Rimmer was now ITFNZ’s 4th Master! Messrs Grant Eccles and Darren Ward were promoted to 5th Dan. Receiving 4th Dan were Messrs Simon Mallinson, Richard Lavin, Brendan Doogan, Brett Kraiger and Ms Rose Cherrington.

July 2010 sees the 5th Oceania Championships combined with the ITFNZ National Tournament. This tournament was run as a dry run in preparation for the 2011 World Championships which are to be held at the same venue. July also sees the launch of the new brand for ITFNZ.

Near the end of 2010, after a successful visit by members of Cook Islands Taekwon-Do to Auckland in March, nearly 50 members from Counties Manukau and Midlands reciprocated by visiting Rarotonga in November, including Masters McPhail and Rimmer, and Messrs Pellow and Brown. A few seminars were also conducted, and a grading took place.


2011 started with Master Ung Kim Lan (Germany) visiting New Zealand in January to conduct special seminars and assisted the New Zealand team with providing sound expertise in preparation for the upcoming ITF World Champs.

Unfortunately, in February, New Zealand had also suffered from a devastating earthquake, which affected much of the entire South Island region. This event sparked the encouragement of fundraisers and support happening throughout the country.

Then, from March 9th to 13th, New Zealand had the grand opportunity to host the ITF World Championships, which was held in Wellington. There, New Zealand sent a team of 49 competitors and, with a total of 20 gold, 12 silver, and 10 bronze, won the Best Overall Country title for the first time, and nearly claimed every Best Overall category for both Juniors and Seniors.

In August, Mr Peter Graham was inducted into the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame, with the ceremony held in Perth, recognizing his key involvement in the organization for over 30 years. There was also a females-only seminar at Auckland in October, which celebrated Women in Taekwon-Do, and was organized by Mrs Trish Rounthwaite and Mrs Lena Walton.

The 3rd Instructors Conference was held at Rotorua in December, and featured special guest, Lee Parore, one of the country’s leading personal trainers and wellness consultants, and guest Instructor, Master Michael Daher (Australia), also a guest examiner for the senior dan grading. Messrs Banicevich, Breen, and Mantjika were promoted to 6th degree, Messrs Breese and Brown were promoted to 5th degree, and eight more candidates were promoted to 4th degree.

The 2012 ITKD National Camp was held at Tui Ridge Park in Rotorua, four years after the previous National Camp (2008). In April, the 6th Oceania Championships were held in Hobart, Australia, in which the New Zealand contingency took out the Best Association and all Best Overall categories.

The 4th ITF World Cup was held in Brighton, England, where a team of 54 competitors from New Zealand won 18 gold, 15 silver, and 12 bronze, coming from seasoned athletes to newcomers and showing a great depth of talent.

In 2013, two new 8th degree Masters were promoted, Masters Davidson and McPhail, and New Zealand had its new Master, Master Pellow, by Grand Masters Marano (Argentina), Bos (Italy), and Lan (Germany), of the ITF Technical Committee, during the International Instructors Course, which was attended by members from New Zealand and around the world.

Throughout 2012 and 2013, a few guest master instructors from around the world conducted seminars and specialized sessions for the High Performance Athletes, beginning with Master Mark Hutton (Scotland), followed by Grand Master Lan after the IIC in February, then Master Jerzy Jedut (Poland) in July. There was also the first Veterans camp held at Aongatete near Katikati and has since become an annual tradition for members 35 and over.

ITKD sent a team of 44 competitors to Benidorm, Spain for the 18th ITF World Championships, which resulted in 8 gold, 7 silver, and 11 bronze, and taking 3rd place for Best Overall Country, behind Poland and Ireland.

Introduced in 2014 were two unique courses for ITKD – the Masters Summit, which featured six Masters at the time. This has since become an annual event for years to come. The other was the Kubz Course, introduced by Master Hutton, to encourage preschoolers to train in Taekwon-Do using simple drills and fun games to improve their overall behaviour for both inside and outside the dojang.

The 2014 Oceanias was held for the first time in the Cook Islands in July, which had 82 competitors from the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and Russia. There was also a Master class conducted by Master Daher prior to the tournament, covering sparring drills as well as some fun ground techniques.

For the ITKD Nationals in Tauranga, Central Districts finally won Best Overall Region, ending Counties Manukau’s Nationals reign by winning 5 more gold. Jamaica was the next destination for the ITF World Cup, which was held in Montego Bay. New Zealand sent a team of 29 competitors, and finished 3rd place overall, with 17 gold, 10 silver, and 4 bronze.

The 4th ITKD Instructors Conference was again held in Rotorua, with special guests Master Daher and Phil Thompson, a leading expert in self defence. There was also a senior dan grading, where three candidates were promoted to 5th degree, and seven more were promoted to 4th degree.

In 2015 the ITF World Champs were held in Jesolo, Italy, and the New Zealand team managed to win the Best Overall Country title for the second time, claiming 14 gold, 8 silver, and 13 bronze, and winning several Best Overall titles, including Frances Lloyd for Best Overall Junior Female. Outside competition, there was the 103rd IIC that was held in Gold Coast, Australia, where at least 50 ITKD Masters, Instructors, Black Belts and Red Belts attended the course.

This also marked the debut of our very own Master McPhail, who conducted his first IIC as a newly appointed member of the ITF Technical Committee, joining Grand Masters Marano and Lan, as well as a special appearance of the ITF President, Grand Master Pablo Trajtenberg (Argentina). With Master McPhail’s inclusion into the ITF Technical Committee, this sparked the inspiration of New Zealand being technically capable and able to learn from first-hand experiences heading into the future. Another highlight of the IIC was that New Zealand had three Masters being promoted to their new ranks – Masters Gray Patterson and Andrew Salton to 7th degree, and Master Mahesh Bhana to 8th degree.


The next ITKD National Camp kicked off the new year in January, with guest instructor Master Hutton, who conducted a Master Class on street self defence. There have also been two senior dan gradings done that year – the first grading was done before the National Camp, where Mr Grant Eccles was promoted to 6th degree, Messrs Mike Lowe and Darren Andrews were promoted to 5th degree, and six more to 4th degree. The second was done in December at Wellington, with three candidates promoted to 6th degree, three more to 5th degree, and eight to 4th degree.

There was the International Umpires Course that was conducted by Masters Alberto Katz (Argentina) and Kurt Ottesen (Canada), to familiarize umpires seeking to attend the upcoming international tournaments, and to provide an excellent opportunity for those who are new to this field.

Shortly after, the Oceanias tournament, which was also the ITKD Nationals, was held in Tauranga, inviting people from Australia to participate. The ITF World Cup was then held in October, at Budapest, with 32 competitors representing their respective clubs. The team eventually won 6 gold, 10 silver, and 11 bronze.

New Zealand got to host the 115th IIC at Auckland in February 2017, which also included participants from Australia, Malaysia, and Finland. The course was conducted by Grand Masters Marano, Lan, and Master McPhail. Both New Zealand and Australia each had a new 8th degree Master, who were Master James Rimmer and Master Peter Barbour (Perth).

Another special event was the Instructors Conference in Rotorua, which featured Grand Master Trajtenberg and Mr Gaston Casero, both of whom introduced us to the ITF Harmony Program – a newly innovative system teaching Taekwon-Do to senior members.

The 2017 ITF World Champs were held in Dublin, Ireland, and the New Zealand team placed second for the best country. Our organization was also given the Outstanding Country award, which was accepted by Master Evan Davidson during the ITF Congress.

2018 had two 6th degrees promoted to Master, totalling 10 New Zealand Masters. Masters Mark Banicevich and Matthew Breen were promoted in Spain under Grand Masters Trajtenberg and Bos, and there was a senior dan grading held in Auckland. Master Evan Davidson had ended his term as the ITKD President, and from May, Master Gray Patterson took over the reins.

The 2018 ITF World Cup in Sydney attracted massive numbers, especially from ITKD members due to the location, and the New Zealand contingency overwhelmed every other country, with 62 gold, 53 silver, and 67 bronze, as well as 13 ITKD clubs placed in the top 30 clubs or teams. Prior to the event, there was a surprise visit from Grand Master Fred Akard (USA), who took special classes in Hastings and Palmerston North.

Master Joliette Tran (Canada), daughter of the late Grand Master Tran Trieu Quan (former ITF President), visited New Zealand in 2019 to conduct seminars as well as become guest instructor for the ITKD National Camp, which included a senior dan grading.

Master Tran’s visit was followed by Master Gordon Wallace (Scotland), a member of the ITF Umpires Committee, and instructed a Master class in Auckland. The International Umpires Course was conducted by Masters Wallace and Katz.

The 2019 ITF World Champs were held in Inzell, Germany, and with New Zealand sending 49 athletes, the team placed third overall for best country, behind Argentina and Poland. During the event, Master Lawrence Mantjika was promoted to 7th degree under Grand Masters Marano, Lan, and Laquerre. Another highlight was Master Banicevich being elected as a Member of the ITF Board led by newly elected ITF President, Grand Master Paul Weiler (Germany), during the ITF Congress.

The year also marked the end of the Under 18’s tournament series era, which was eventually replaced by the Star Series tournaments in 2021. In November, there were two firsts in Rarotonga – a Stripes 1-to-1 course, and a senior dan grading, which had four candidates grading to their new respective ranks.

2020 marked a year of promise, as it had been 50 years since the first ITKD club was established in Palmerston North by Mr Norman Ng. In March, four new Masters were promoted – Masters Peter Graham, Ian Campbell, Kane Raukura, and Christine Young-Jasberg, who gained the distinction of being the first ever New Zealand female Master. The grading was examined by Grand Masters Marano, Lan, and Laquerre, and preceded the International Instructors Course in March, which was the last IIC to be held in 2020. This also was Grand Master Pierre Laquerre’s (Canada) first visit to New Zealand, as a member of the ITF Technical Committee.

Unfortunately, shortly after the IIC, the COVID-19 global pandemic spread to New Zealand and entered a nationwide lockdown as a way of controlling and eliminating the spread of the disease. As a result, all ITKD clubs were closed until May, but many of the instructors operated their clubs using online resources, mainly through the Zoom video app. To add to the unfortunate but alternative outcomes, many events throughout New Zealand and the rest of the world were cancelled due to the pandemic, such as the seminars, regional and national tournaments, and even the ITF World Cup, which was supposed to take place at Slovenia, in October. When everything steadily returned to normal, there was a senior dan grading in October. During the outbreak in May, Mr Steve Mulholland, who was the Vice-President of ITFNZ, passed away.

Whilst reeling from the effects of COVID-19, and adapting to the “new normal”, ITKD had appointed a new CEO in January 2021, Alex Hayton, who succeeded Mike Thompson after 11 years. The physical trainings recommenced, and so did the competition in New Zealand, with the reintroduction of the Star Series, and the ITKD Nationals being held in Tauranga, after it was cancelled the previous year. Auckland North managed to win Best Overall Region, after Counties Manukau won for six years straight. There was the inaugural symposium for 1st to 3rd dan black belts in Rotorua, organized by Masters Christine Young, Lawrence Mantjika, and Kane Raukura, and attended by 45 members.

However, another outbreak of COVID-19, from August, forced New Zealand into lockdown once again, with many clubs resorting to online classes. Many of the clubs around the country were closed for at least 3 weeks, whereas Auckland clubs remained closed for over 3 months. During the lockdown, there were a few online tournaments, including the first ever ITF Online World Championships in September. New Zealand was represented by Morgan Bowler-Parkin and Daniel Cossey, particularly in their respective pattern divisions.

In November, two senior dan gradings were being held at the same time, in Auckland and Wellington. Auckland had its grading outdoors with social distancing due to COVID-19 restrictions. In total, two candidates were promoted to 6th degree, eight were promoted to 5th degree, and four to 4th degree.

In December, ITKD had its first ever Grand Masters (9th degree). Grand Master Evan Davidson was promoted in November, followed by Grand Master Paul McPhail shortly after. This achievement has become a huge reflection of how far ITKD as an organization has come in terms of growth and expansion with Taekwon-Do in New Zealand.

2022 started off with some sad news, as there was the passing of Grand Master Pablo Trajtenberg (Argentina) in April, who was most notably a member of the ITF Technical Committee, followed by Senior Grand Master Charles Sereff (USA) a day later, who supported ITFNZ, and became closely associated with the organization since the 1980s.

There was a new Master for ITKD, Master Grant Eccles, who was promoted in July in the first ever Masters grading examination by both Grand Masters Davidson and McPhail. Three other candidates, Messrs Lowe, Kraiger, and Herbison, were promoted to 6th degree. In October, there was the 8th ITF World Cup, held in Koper, Slovenia. New Zealand was only represented by two competitors: Sean Neary and Misha Worboys.

Master Adrian Byrne (Ireland) visited New Zealand in January 2023, and conducted seminars and became guest instructor for the ITKD National Camp, thus kicking off 2023. During the National Camp, there was a senior dan grading, which included the promotion of Master Gray Patterson to 8th degree, and Masters Suzanne Patterson, Darren Ward, and Hayden Breese to 7th degree.


In June, Grand Master Rocky Rounthwaite was promoted to 9th degree, thus New Zealand having three Grand Masters. In September, the ITF World Champs returned, this time in Tampere, Finland. New Zealand had sent a team of athletes and returned home with three gold (all were won through power breaking), one silver, and five bronze, which was commendable, considering the long break between the last event (2019) and Finland, as well as Ngā Kaponga (the National NZ Team) having mostly newcomers into the team, especially with pre-junior competitors being able to compete.

2024 started with a senior dan grading in January, which had three candidates promoted to 6th degree, two to 5th degree, and four to 4th degree. In March, the International Instructors Course was held in Auckland, featuring participants from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, and conducted by the ITF Technical Committee, consisting of Grand Masters Marano, McPhail, and Master Jedut, who made his first appearance in New Zealand as part of the committee.





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