MatarikiYouth Development

Matariki Team -  Waitā

Matariki Team - Waitā

Posted May 28, 2022
IHNZ News Matariki

Within the Matariki star cluster, the Waitā star surveys our vast oceans, Te Moana-nui-o-Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean) and Te Tai-o-Rehua (the Tasman Sea). The variety of life in these waters is diverse and covers different species of marine plants, whāngote (mammals), manu (birds), and ika (fish).

Waitā encourages us to respect our coasts and oceans, and treat their inhabitants like the taonga (treasures) they really are.


Ben Thompson leads the Waitā team consisting of:

  • Jacob Jackson
  • Ritchie Hopkinson
  • Jaden Merlo
  • Josh Kingi
  • Flint Roderick
  • TJ Drysdale
  • Zane Cooper

Ben Thompson started playing for the Kapiti Rangers and then moved to the Rimutaka Renegades in 2006. Since then he has also played for the Capital Jokers and the Levin Rebels.

Ben represented New Zealand at Oceanias from 2008 - 2011, IIHF Worlds in Germany in 2012, FIRS Worlds in Los Angeles in 2013, and the IIHF Worlds in Slovakia in 2017.

Jacob Jackson is in his first season as a premier player with the Mt Wellington Panthers.

This follows a few years away from the game playing rugby. Jacob played 1st XV rugby for Botany College, Pakuranga U20 and Auckland 18 (B).

Jacob is pleased to be playing inline hockey once again and the opportunity to represent his whanau and iwi, along with his brother William.

Ritchie Hopkinson has been playing both Inline and ice hockey for over 20 years. Ritchie was a part of the 2013 national premier championship winning Auckland Sabres team and has represented NZ at the U21, U23 and Senior Men’s levels on multiple occasions.

For the last 6 years he has represented the Botany Swarm in the NZIHL including last season as an Alternate captain, and last November was named to the New Zealand Ice Blacks roster.

Jaden Merlo has played for the Mt Wellington Panthers and represented Northern Region and New Zealand. With a move for work, JJ now plays for the Hamilton Devils.

Flint Roderick is 16 years old and a student at New Plymouth Boys High School. He has been playing Inline Hockey for the Ravens club since he was 9 and currently he is in the 16U team.

He has attended numerous national competitions and has regularly been selected for the Central Region team. Flint says he loves the speed of inline hockey and is also a sprinter and does parkour.

Josh Kingi started playing hockey when he was six years old. He first represented New Zealand when he was 10 playing in the 12U in Moe, Australia at the Oceania tournament.

He has represented the country three times, traveling to Hawaii twice for the AAU Junior Olympics and playing Oceania’s a second time in Hamilton. Josh was appointed captain of the 12U New Zealand team and won the series against Australia 4-1.

TJ Drysdale started skating at 6 years old and joined his first team at 7 and says he has loved hockey ever since!

TJ plays Inline Hockey for the New Plymouth Ravens.He has represented Ravens at Nationals, the Central Region at Inter Regionals, and NPBHS at the 2021 and 2022 NZSSC Nationals.

Zane Cooper is 17 years old and started skating when he was 8. He joined Northland Stingrays originally playing out but was persuaded to have a go in goal when they had no goalie and really enjoyed stopping pucks.

For the next few years, he alternated between playing out and in goal before deciding to concentrate on goalie.

Zane represented the Northern region in goal for 12U, 14U and 16U, and was selected for the 14U NZ team for the AAU Junior Olympics held in Hawaii in 2019. He was selected for the 14U NZ Oceania team in 2020 (which did not go ahead due to Covid).

Zane recently played for Kerikeri High School at the NZSS tournament in New Plymouth and is looking forward to playing in the Matariki tournament.