Secondary School Waka-Ama champ looks to defend title

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Auckland

Over 100 secondary schools will compete at the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa National Secondary School Waka Ama Championships 2017. Manaaki Te Kowhai is back to defend his U19 W1 250m title.

Te Kowhai says, “I'm pretty confident, but the level of competition has risen because there is a lot more schools competing and some pretty big names in there.”

This year will see the largest National Secondary School Waka Ama Nationals in its 16-year history. The Year 13 student says he hopes to make the most of it.

“This year will be pretty special if I win because it's my last year and yeah it's also going to be a big step for me because there's a lot of competition.”

This year, Manaaki competed at the Waka Ama Sprint Nationals at Karāpiro with the Pr3zzys team where they managed to take out the 500m W6 race. He also came second in the J19 500m sprint.

“The main reason I am probably improving in it is because of the coaching we have. Our coaches are pretty well taught in what they're doing and experience. They've won a lot of gold medals in their time so they know what they're up too.”

Te Kowhai says he looks forward to taking his Waka Ama talents international as he joins the Long Distance NZ Team who jet off for Tahiti at the end of June for the worlds.