The National Waka Ama Secondary Schools Champs is the only event this side of the Pacific that students from Paopao College in Tahiti attend. For many of the 32 students who have come to NZ from the college, it's their first time away from home.
When the adrenaline hits hang on to your paddle. That's the philosophy of Paopao de College's U16 mixed waka ama team. The Tahitian outfit were the first to head out and the last to come in.
But the experience of being in NZ for the first time was priceless.
Mc Callum Poehere from Pao Pao College) says, “New Zealand is very beautiful, it's cold and the competition is cool.”
The college is one of the 97 secondary schools participating in this event being hosted by Te Arawa.
“We are hoping the number of schools attending will rise to over 100. That's our goal,” says Paraone Pirika from Te Arawa.
The rise in schools will require improved waka ama skills. It also means that it will be difficult to tell who the best are.
Pirika says, “The best are from the Gisborne area, but now the schools are really close.”
Today is day one of the National Secondary Schools Waka Ama champs. The semi-finals are scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.