Online team entries will close tonight for the National Secondary School Waka Ama Championships, with a staggering 115 schools from around the country registered to take part in the competition, and there's expectation that there will be more by the end of today.
Held at Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) in Rotorua, the annual event not only attracts schools from the Far North to the South Island, it will also host a seven teams from College de Paopao, who will travel to NZ from Moorea, Tahiti.
International teams are welcomed to take part in the national event “as it is a great way for our rangatahi to meet paddlers from other countries,” according to organisers, Ngā Kaihoe o Aotearoa. However, as the event is a national championship, international teams will compete in the outside lanes and will not be eligible to place.
There are 17 events all up at this year’s championship, from U16 Boys and Girls W6 250m and 500m, to U19 Boys and Girls W6 250m and 500m. The event will also feature mixed teams races, singles 250m races and WT12 races which feature 12 paddlers.
Rotorua Boys’ High are making use of their home advantage, they will have a total of 14 teams competing in all of the major events.
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae will have a massive squad travelling down from Auckland, the school also has 14 teams registered.
The week will also feature exciting opportunities for the rangatahi at this year’s competition, which will feature in the 1st Annual Rotorua Waka Festival. A Secondary School Kapa Haka Super 6 competition will be held on the 28th and the Hoea ki Mokoia Secondary School Race that Saturday.
Set up for the event in Rotorua will start on the 25th of this month, with the pōhiri and W1 and W12 races opening the championship the following day, on the 26th of March.