It's the last day for most junior waka ama teams as they prepare for the Waka Ama National Championships next Monday. It's one of the biggest years for juniors at a nationals, with more than 250 paddlers competing in both midget and intermediate grades.
Girls and boys, big and small gathered at Lake Pupuke today. It's the last water training for the Waitākere junior teams preparing for the nationals in three days.
Pureora Timutimu-Pihama says, "I'm happy because we have been training for a long time now to improve our skills to hopefully win in Karāpiro."
Hine Ora has been training since last November. That has intensified to twice daily, with one on land in the morning and water training at night.
Arihia Turei says, "We were hoping to finish up yesterday, but some were happy like Pureora who wanted to come and play."
They have three races at the nationals, competing in the W6 in the 250m and 500m, and the W12 at 500m.
"I'm quite nervous bacause we might lose our races at Karāpiro," says young Pureora.
The competition is going to be tough for Hine Ora, as the midget numbers at the nationals have grown this year. 488 midget paddlers have registered to race next week and a staggering 613 are in the intermediate section.
There are three days of racing for junior teams, which means more competition for these kids who want to win gold.
"Some of our opponents are my whānau. I haven't seen them in a long time so I'm a bit scared," says young Arihia.
The midgets kick off the competition next Monday, with finals on Tuesday and Wednesday.