Rachel Day-Brown and sons Kahurangi (Kahu) and Makaia (Maka). Photo/File
Scooter champ brothers Kahu and Maka Day-Brown are upping their training hours in the lead up to the NZ nationals in the new year, with Kahu who turned pro in May eyeing the "golden ticket" of qualification for the Barcelona worlds by topping his section.
Freestyle scootering is one of the fastest-growing extreme sports in the world, attracting huge crowds at skate events like Spain's World Roller Games, a target for the Christchurch-based teenagers.
Kahurangi Day-Brown (16), who has finished school for the year, trains for 6 to 8 hours a day at the local skate park and younger brother Makaia (13), whose school year has not quite ended, does a couple of hours after school and then is fully into it on the weekends.
"They are super busy practising for NZ nationals which are January 18th, so that’s their focus at the moment," mother Rachel Day-Brown (Ngāi Tahu) says.
Kahu and Maka (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāi Tahu) are the current NZ champs, with Kahu achieving an outstanding 5th place in Brisbane in April at the Australasian championships.
It is that latter result that convinced major international extreme sports brand Madd Gear to contract Kahu as a professional and begin promoting him through their global network.
"Maka will probably win his section pretty easily again - he just keeps improving - but it is Kahu's first year in the pro section so that will be interesting," Rachel says.
WATCH Kahu got a surprise call from Madd Gear earlier this year that would change his life. Video/File
It may be asking a lot of Kahu to expect he will win his section first-time out as a pro, especially as he will be up against older more experienced boys. He is the youngest in the pro section in NZ by about 3 years, the rest ranging between 19 and mid-20s.
"But he is determined to do well against the older competitors."
There is an alternative path to Spain, however, if Kahu does not win the Kiwi nationals.
"If he qualifies in NZ and Oz, he will be off to the worlds in Barcelona. Wouldn’t that be cool!," Rachel says.
To qualify from the NZ nationals for the Australasian champs, competitors need to finish in the top 10 places in their section.
"The winner of the NZ nationals gets the golden ticket to go straight to Barcelona, otherwise you have to qualify top 10 to get to the Australasians, then be top 13 at the Australasians to go through [to Spain]."
It will be tough for Kahu to break-through in Australia, as the facilities available to the riders there are far beyond anything available here. In his favour though, this will be Kahu's (and Maka's) fourth Australasian champs, if they qualify from NZ again.
"The Aussie pros are insane though, they have much better parks and bigger jumps to practise on, so he will have to work super hard to qualify."
Makaia competing at the 2019 NZ Nationals. Oblique Pro RAW/YouTube
Spare a thought for the mother of these gravity-defying boys, who has to watch them looping high in the air above concrete and other hard-surface skating bowls.
"The Oz comp is out of this world and a bit scary to watch."
There has always been a nerve-racking side to watching her sons, the brave mum says.
"It has always been scary to watch but I have to just step back and have faith that they will be ok. They like to show me their crazy tricks but then tell me off for my 'motherly' reactions to them!"
"But they also have a secret weapon in Dad watching over them too," Rachel says.
Tracy Brown (Ngāti Raukawa ki Tainui, Ngāti Whātua) passed away from cancer in 2016, when his sons were 13 and 10. It was his dream that they would one day be professionals.