Summer binge: The five best webisodes on The Spinoff this year

The Spinoff produced four web series in 2019. Here is the cream of the crop.

Scratched: Ruia Morrison’s unlikely tennis journey from Rotorua to Wimbledon

Meet Ruia Morrison, the first New Zealand woman and first Māori tennis player to compete at Wimbledon. Raised on the courts of Te Koutu in the 1940s, Morrison quickly dominated inter-marae tournaments around Rotorua before being sent to Auckland as a teenager to compete in the premiere club competition.

By age 20, she was a national singles champion and, thanks to the support of the wider Māori community, on a plane to Wimbledon for the 1957 grand slam tournament. But despite being considered one of the best in the world at the time, and a successful career spanning two decades, Morrison has remained largely unknown in her home country. Still living in Rotorua and a matriarch of Māori tennis, Ruia Morrison is well and truly a lost sporting legend of Aotearoa.

Two Sketches: Michel Mulipola on WWE, Marvel, Tekken and drawing The Rock

Toby draws and chats with Sāmoan artist Michel Mulipola. Apart from being a pro wrestler, Michel is also a comic book artist working for the WWE comic line and for Marvel trading cards. Michel talks about his early days learning his craft, why he feels like an outsider in the New Zealand comic scene and explains that you have to be chill to win in the ring.

On the Rag: Gender identity, Brazilian waxing and Amazon river dolphins

Alex Casey, Leonie Hayden and Michèle A’Court sharpen their secateurs and trim a path into the prickly world of body hair. Why do we have hair in certain places and not others? Who is hair removal really for? And how painful is a first-time Brazilian? We are also joined in the studio by Nikolai Talamahina aka Brown Boy Magik to chat about how body hair can play a crucial part in gender identity.

Kaupapa on the Couch: Do family and whānau mean the same thing?

In this episode of Kaupapa on the Couch, presented by Leonie Hayden, we have a look at what family means in different cultures and the effects of colonisation on whānau and whakapapa.

Scratched: Chunli Li, undefeated in New Zealand at 57 years old

Chunli Li moved to New Zealand in 1987 to retire from table tennis, aged 25. Instead, she was asked to keep playing and represented New Zealand at four Olympic Games and at the 2002 Commonwealth Games won an unprecedented four medals, aged 40.

Born in Guiping, China, Li was scouted at nine years old and sent to a specialist table tennis school in Beijing. Training up to five hours a day, she moved up the junior ranks, making the Chinese national squad and eventually winning a national title at 20. By 25, Li had retired from the national team and accepted an invitation to coach at the Manawatu Table Tennis Association in New Zealand. On the other side of the world, she couldn’t be beaten. Three decades later, Li speaks of a life spent serving one purpose, and keeping her Olympic medal dream alive.

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