116 schools are participating in this year's National Secondary School Waka Ama Championships being held on Lake Tikitapu, Rotorua. 1,300 paddlers have been competing since Tuesday.
The competition continues to grow with 15 new schools participating this year.
Denise Keelan, who is supporting Tamatea ki Ahuriri says, “This is really good for our youth, for the sport. You know that it's going to grow with them because they really love this sport."
Te Waiariki Purea Trust has been hosting this event for the last 15 years but this year a new location means new surroundings.
Laurie Durand of Te Waiariki Purea Trust says, “We've had to contend with the tide being on the lake which is really unusual. We lost about 25 metres of beach at Lake Tikitapu here today because we've had such a wet winter and a wet spring”.
But the high lake levels did not affect the races or the paddlers.
“It's not been like this before, it's quite high up. There is usually sand on the beach and we have noticed that the water has risen but we don't understand why,” says Julie Tangaere of Hato Hōhepa and Te Aute.
The event comes to a close tomorrow.