Manukura students paddle their way to success

By Hinewai Netana-Williams

Hinewai Netana-Williams is a Te Rito journalism cadet.

Four Manukura students are coming home from the 2022 IVF Va’a World Sprint Club Championships in the UK with their luggage weighing 14 medals heavier.  

They say perseverance and whānau as a supportive backbone led to a worthwhile reward that “just meant the world”.

The categories include W12 500m, W6 1000m and W6 500m. 

Hunter Christian Hewson (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa), 17, was the only Manukura student who competed in singles. He also competed in all elite categories as well as the J19 categories, bringing home four gold medals and one bronze.  

Raumati Rakuraku (Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe), 17, competed in the J19 categories and the 500m alongside the open men, bringing home one gold medal, one silver medal and one bronze medal.  

Piper Kate Donaldson (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Whānau ā Apanui), 16, competed in all categories under the J19 and open women, bringing home five gold medals. 

Troy Hewson (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa), 15, competed in all J16 categories, bringing home one gold medal.   

Piper Donaldson says the key to success is finding motivation, setting goals and striving for them and, to top it off, “winning gold just meant the world”.  

Medals galore for Manukura students returning from the World Sprint Clubs Championships.

Raumati Rakuraku says, "I really had to fight for my position. I really wanted the gold medal so it wasn’t easy”. 

Hunter Hewson said there were “hours, days, weeks spent training in the cold in Palmerston North”. 

Donaldson says the struggle really hit when she thought she wasn’t actually going to compete in the worlds: “because we had been training for at least 11 months consistently, two times a day. On weekends there would be three training sessions a day and, to top it off, we would have training camps every three to four weeks, so I was sick of it - but I managed to pull through and it was totally worth it.”

Backed by whānau

Whānau were the foundation - a strong support system.  

“Definitely the hard work behind the scenes. My whānau, grinding away with raffles, helping packing food just to get me over there. I know they’re working hard behind the scenes so I have to work even harder,” Hewson recalls.  

At the tournament’s conclusion, Aotearoa held first place in the medal count.