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Rising Grom: Tao Mouldey

Tao Mouldey rips. There’s simply no other way to put it. His Instagram profile is filled with mini edits of the Mount Maunganui grom throwing buckets of spray much higher than they should be for someone his age. A solid reflection of this is the fact that he won both the U14 and U16 National titles at the National Surfing Championships event in Piha late last year.

We recently sat down with him to chat about life in the Mount, what he’s learnt from working with The Art of Surfing and what he’d do if he ruled the world for a day.

NZSJ: Who are you and where are you from?

Tao Mouldey: I have just turned 14 years old, and I am from Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. I have been surfing since I was four, so ten years now.

NZSJ: What’s your favorite wave to surf in New Zealand?

Tao Mouldey: My favorite wave would have to be Matakana Island. It’s good for everything from crazy barrels, big walls for sick turns, and crazy air sections. It’s the best wave ever (laughs).

NZSJ: What motivates you to get out and surf?

Tao Mouldey: I think that the more you surf the better you get so I’m just always so frothing to get out there!

NZSJ: Do you prefer surfing in comps or just purely free surfing?

Tao Mouldey: That’s a really hard one. I love free surfing in pumping waves with just a couple mates, but since I’m so competitive it would have to be comp surfing (laughs).

NZSJ: Who inspires you?

Tao Mouldey: John John Florence and Gabriel Medina inspire me heaps, I just love the lines they take and how dedicated they are to the sport.

NZSJ: Do you have any particular types of music you like to listen to or certain video parts you watch to get yourself psyched up for a surf?

Tao Mouldey: John John’s 26 Waves from Home is just crazy and gets me amped to surf. And of course, some drum and bass gets me pumped up.

Tao Mouldey loving the punchy conditions at the 2021 Emerson’s South Island Surfing Championships. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: What’s it like to be in a family that is so involved with surfing?

Tao Mouldey: It’s pretty sick to have your whole family out surfing with you. Especially when you’re travelling around. It does get pretty competitive, but it’s fun (laughs).

NZSJ: What do you enjoy about surfing in comps?

Tao Mouldey: The best part has to be when you’re in a heat with your mates (especially when it’s pumping) and it’s just you and them having the line up to yourselves, which is pretty sick.

NZSJ: You got to surf on the Gold Coast earlier this year. How was that experience mixing it with some of the world’s best?

Tao Mouldey: It was pretty sick, the kids over there are next level. They’re super friendly, but when they surf it’s so gnarly. I like it though because it pushes me and makes me want to try new maneuvers. But man, they surf so well over there.

NZSJ: What’s the best day you’ve had at the island?

Tao Mouldey: That’s a hard one. It’s so good all the time. It would probably be about three months ago when me and my mate were just chilling after school. We went and checked the surf and were like “oh, the island could be on!”
We got over there on our ski and it was probably 3-4ft with hardly anyone out, we had a peak to ourselves and got barrel after barrel. It was pretty crazy. I got one really long left tube where I had a really late takeoff, and my mate got another one just behind me.

Tao Mouldey, Under 14 and Under 16 Boys national champ loves bowly waves. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: Tell us about your family, what do they do?

Tao Mouldey: We live on Moa Street, which is right by the crossroads roundabout. My dad owns a building business and mum helps him out with all the taxes and invoices … stuff like that.

NZSJ: What’s it like having your younger brother Zen nipping on your heels?

Tao Mouldey: Yeah, Zen’s pretty competitive at the moment. If we go back-to-back on waves, he’ll tell me “Ohh, mine was so much better than yours.” He’s really loving his surfing at the moment. It is super sick to be able to surf with your brother. We definitely push each other and there’s a bit of a rivalry there. We’ve had one or two Surfing NZ heats together, but most of the time we just run mock heats together and he’s beaten me a couple times, which he just won’t shut up about (laughs).

NZSJ: Who are your sponsors?

Tao Mouldey: My sponsors are Quiksilver, Anderson Surfboards, Sticky Johnson surf wax, Otis eyewear, Surf screen and Backdoor.

Tao Mouldey has come through the Art of Surfing and it has certainly paid off. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: What’s it been like working with Matty Scorringe from the Art of Surfing?

Tao Mouldey: Matt is crazy – he’s just so good at what he does and he surfs the island so good. For me it’s the little things that he teaches us like paddling into a wave from a different angle, or just taking a different bottom turn approach – that just changes your surfing so much. One of the main things I’ve been working on with him is throwing my back arm up when I’m on my backhand, which I never used to do. He’s been teaching me to throw my front arm up, which helps make your board go way more vertical on your turns. And on my forehand, I’ve learnt to just get lower on my turns, I used to stand up after my turns quite a lot and now every single time I try to get as low as I can to ride out of them.

NZSJ: What’s your dream for your surfing and where do you want to take it?

Tao Mouldey: My end goal is to try make the Olympics, which will be pretty tough and then hopefully get on the CT. But I reckon just representing New Zealand, would be pretty cool. Competing at home on the world stage would be pretty sick.

NZSJ: If you could rule the world, what three things would you change and why?

Tao Mouldey: I would make New Zealand’s water way warmer, especially down in Dunedin, ideally the same temperature as Aussie and then have a couple really good points like Snapper, Dbah and all of those in New Zealand. It’d be pretty cool. We live right next to a big blank park, so I’d definitely want to put a wave pool in there and have that right next to me. Then I’d have a snow planet park right outside my house cos I really enjoy my snowboarding.

NZSJ: Sounds like every grom’s dream! Thanks for the interview Tao.

Tao Mouldey: You’re welcome and thanks.

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