Rook­ies com­pete in na­tion­als

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

Rookie pad­dlers will be lin­ing up next to some ex­pe­ri­enced com­peti­tors at waka ama na­tion­als this week.

The Dilworth School team takes to the wa­ter in the mixed di­vi­sion with Ep­som Girls Gram­mar School on Ro­torua’s Blue Lake.

It is the first year Dilworth has of­fered the sport and some of the pad­dlers have only been in a waka a hand­ful of times. But that doesn’t make them any less keen.

Teacher Michael But­ler came to Dilworth in 2013 and sug­gested the school try waka ama. In­ter­est has been so overwhelming that the school had to limit the crews to just 24 pad­dlers.

‘‘It just seemed like a sport that would suit them. There’s a lot of Poly­ne­sian and Maori stu­dents there. There was just so much in­ter­est.’’

The Ep­som Girls team are well­known for their waka ama prow­ess and work­ing with them has been ben­e­fi­cial for the young pad­dlers.

‘‘They love the pad­dling and be­ing an ab­so­lute team. If you don’t work to­gether you just fall apart. These boys from board­ing to­gether are al­ready so close they call them­selves broth­ers. When they get into the waka it just works re­ally well.’’

A record num­ber of pad­dlers are tak­ing part in the na­tion­als this week with more than 1500 stu­dents from 95 schools ex­pected to line up in var­i­ous boat classes.

Waka Ama New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Lara Collins says the com­pe­ti­tion is one of the largest sec­ondary school sports events in New Zealand.

‘‘We’ve made huge strides these past 13 years to take waka ama into as many schools as pos­si­ble.

‘‘Each year we get more schools tak­ing the sport up and, for the very first time since the Christchurch earthquake, we’ll have schools from the South Is­land com­pet­ing at these cham­pi­onships.’’

New sport:

Strong strokes: The Dilworth School waka ama team com­petes at na­tion­als for the first time this year. Lo­gan Rahiri, Len­nox Ben­jamin, Shem Setu, Reeve Phillips, Ivan Faddy and cap­tain Hiwa Hopa pad­dle for Dilworth.

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz to see a video of the 2013 waka ama na­tion­als.

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