Kaiti School brings its A game to AIMS 2022

By Herewini Waikato

Kaiti School ripper team and coach Trisha Hina ready to play

More than 300 intermediate schools and 10,000 competitors from around New Zealand have been battling it out in this year’s Zespri AIMS Games in Tauranga this week.

It is New Zealand’s largest school sports tournament for students of this age. Games from 23 different sports codes feature, including sailing, rock climbing as well as hip hop, water polo, and five-a-side indoor soccer.

Kaiti School from Gisborne made its way to this year’s sports tournament run by the Association of Intermediate and middle schools, also known as AIMS, for the first time. Kaiako and coach of the Ripper team Trisha Hina said, “We planned this for two years and it has been a top priority that we get our tamariki here and give them these opportunities”.

Having fun

AIMS pou reo, pou tikanga (support for Māori language and culture) Tumai Kaukau Troughton says AIMS is “like a rudder on a canoe that guides new schools here to show off their talents”.

Losiane Toupil, a student of Kaiti school said, “We are playing Ripper and it is really fun. We are making friends and getting to know new people on the field”.

Kesomi Mahelofa Lauti from Kaiti school played in the school’s rugby sevens team and was just happy to play the game. “The boys get to meet other people and it’s not all about winning, it’s also about having fun,” Lauti said.

Travelling cost challenge

Trisha Hina is a past Kiwi Fern and Black Fern, and now a teacher of four years at Kaiti school. The biggest challenge the school faced was the cost of travel, entry, accommodation, and food for the week-long tournament.

Proud parent Erica Tui Lawson knows all too well the fundraising commitment and sacrifice it took for her whānau to be at AIMS.

“Covid-19 was one reason,” she says. “The school is low decile and, because of Covid-19, our parents felt the struggle with paying the fees. Money’s not easy to come by these days.”

Hina agreed: “We do live in a low socio-economic area. It would have been over $300 each to get here and show off Te Tairawhiti. We are very lucky our board supported us, I don’t think we would have made it if we didn’t have that support.”

Definitely returning

Zespri AIMS Games started in 2004 as a sports tournament for all schools around the country in years 7 and 8. It also has a sporting foundation for new schools, such as Kaiti to join.

Hina and her 50 young sports stars from Kaiti school of 400 will return next year, no matter the cost “because it’s an opportunity for our kids to showcase their best because these Kaiti kids are remarkable in all that they do,” she said

Tomorrow seven grand finals will take place for this year’s AIMS 2022.