Rotorua’s Blue Lake transformed into a sea of colour and noise last week as New Zealand’s top secondary school waka ama paddlers battled it out for national honours.

More than 1450 paddlers took to the water, including Northland’s Kerikeri High School, Taipa Area School, Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Tonga O Hokianga, Whangarei Girls’ High School and Whangarei Boys’ High School.

St Patricks College Silverstream smashed the under-19 250m Boys W6 Championship final, winning with a record time of 53.09, and securing their first medal at the event with a flawless performance on the water.

Gisborne schools also proved they were a force to be reckoned with.

Lytton High School took gold in the 250m and 500m of the U16 girl’s W6 competition and Gisborne Girls’ High School achieved the same in the U19 division.

Gisborne Boys’ High School also took home the U16 500m W6 title.

Lara Collins, chief executive of Waka Ama New Zealand, described this year’s racing as some of the most thrilling she’d seen in the regatta’s 14-year history.

“We had some incredibly tight racing – a true display of grit and determination. The weather was fabulous and provided perfect racing conditions.

“The noise from the crowd watching the finals was simply electric and made for an extremely exciting end to the week’s racing.

“Waka ama racing continues to break into new territory as more kids sign up to paddle for their schools or local clubs. We saw last week how passionate they are about representing their schools.”

A full list of results can be found at http://wakaama.co.nz/stories/read/1003927.

This weekend will mark the return of the waka ama long-distance nationals to Northland.

The event will be based out of Marsden Cove Marina and is set to run on April 4-5.

 

Originally published in the Northern Advocate, Tuesday March 31, 2015
Photo: Te Kapehu Whetu of Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Paraoa compete in their under-19 Boys’ W6 250m heat.