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Mareikura lead-up a big factor in sprints success


A smooth summer season for the Mareikura Waka Ama Club was set up by the training.

Leading up to last month's sprint nationals at Lake Karapiro, Mareikura had a nearly stress-free campaign, club committee member and influential figure in the sport Raipoia Brightwell said.

She put that down to the input of renowned Tahitian waka ama coach Tamatoa Perez, the addition of three W6 and three W1 new waka to the club's fleet and teams integrating water safety practices into their approach.

Thirteen teams ranging from the Taitama and Taitamahine categories (under-10 boys and girls) to golden masters (60-plus) represented Mareikura at the waka ama sprint nationals.

The Taitamahine (u10 girls) teams of Bubbalishous and Hinekiwa combined to make the championship final in the W12 category, with Hinekiwa also making the championship final of the W6 250-metre race.

The Taitama (u10 boys) team Rangiwaho just missed the championship rounds but came first in the Cup final.

In the intermediate grade (u13), the club's first-time intermediate girls teams of Kalega and Gizzy Hard came fourth in the W12 final, and Kalega made the final in the W6 500m.

The intermediate boys' team of Tamaraukura made the semifinals of both the W6 500m and 500m-turn event.

Bubbalishous, Rangiwaho, Tamaraukura and the intermediate girls' Hine te Kapua were coached by Rob Nuku.

Hinekiwa were coached by Matahi Brightwell, a longtime leading light in the sport.

Joelene Takai coached Kalega and Gizzy Hard.

The heat was on in the junior-16 boys' division.

Coached by Takai and managed by Iona Maxwell, the club's two crews of Nga Tama Toa and Nga Tama Taniwha combined for silver in the 500m W12 final.

The Nga Tama Toa team of Jarrod Hill, Hunter Hewson, Wiremu Maxwell, John Horua, Uetaha Wanoa and Antonio Williams won a gold medal in the 500m W6 race and a silver medal in the 1000m.

“Through these results, the teams were selected to represent New Zealand at the waka ama world sprint championships at Hilo, Hawaii, in August this year, a massive achievement for these rangatahi,” Takai said.

The Mareikura J16 girls' team went on to earn a well-raced fourth place in the W12 500m, and the club's Karuhiruhi team made the final of the W6 500m race. They were coached by members of the Brightwell whanau.

In the senior area, master men's team The Wolfpac and a crew called “4 Maori, a Tongan and a Pakeha walk into a bar” combined for the W12 National Hauora Coalition event and made the final.

The Wolfpac made the W6 500m final.

Most members of the Mareikura master men's teams are new to the sport and their efforts earned them selection for the Hilo world sprints.

The Mareikura Wahine golden master women's team of Denise Tapp, Mihi Aston, Carolyn Hodgkinson, Caren Fox, Beverley Murray and Raipoia Brightwell won gold in the W6 1000m and bronze in the W6 500m, and combined with Team Tuia from Horouta to win silver in the W12 500m senior master women's (50-plus) race.

In the individual racing, Hunter Hewson won gold in the J16 boys' 500m and teammate Jarrod Hill claimed bronze.

J16 girl Aoatea Gardner came fourth in her W1 500m final and Tapp won silver in her golden master women's event.

Raipoia Brightwell and Aston also made their W1 finals, posting personal-best times.

Intermediate girls' representatives Salome Tamale and Ainise Toupili, in their first W1 races at that level, made it into finals.

Matahi Brightwell oversaw all rangatahi W1 training, an area the club has specialised in and plans to strengthen in the near future.

The club wished to highlight the W1 efforts of J16 boys Wiremu Maxwell and Antonio Williams, who made the W1 J16 boys' semifinals, and J19 girl Alyssa Herbert, also a semifinalist.

Beverley Murray made her return to W1 racing in the golden master women's category and made the semifinals.

W1 rookies Pania Ruakere and Diane Aspavlo raced in the senior master women's division and premier women's division, respectively.

Raipoia Brightwell said it took some courage for W1 paddlers to put themselves out there to compete.

The Mareikura master men's W12 team — Miha Crawford, Billy (Wiremu) Maxwell, Caine Pomana, Dale Hapi, Daryl Dunn, David Joll, Jason Devery, Jason Whitewood, Leighvi Maynard, Manu Toupili, Shane Campbell and Steven Smith — were among the crews who qualified to represent New Zealand in Hawaii.

W1 paddlers Hewson, Hill, Gardner, Tapp, the J16 boys' teams Nga Tama Toa and Nga Tama Taniwha, the golden master women's team Mareikura Wahine and The Wolfpac master men's W6 crew also qualified.

The club wanted to thank paddlers, coaches, managers and whanau for their support, “and for adjusting so well to the demands of waka ama life”.

“Nga mihi nui ki te whanau katoa.”

ON THE NATIONAL STAGE: Mareikura Waka Ama members trained well for the sport's sprint nationals last month and enjoyed the results. Pictures by Liam Clayton
SOLO SUCCESS: The Mareikura W1 squad (from left) Salome Tamale, Ainise Toupili, Diane Aspavlo, Pania Ruakere, Hunter Hewson (J16 boys’ gold medallist), Antonio Williams, Denise Tapp (golden master women’s silver medallist, Raipoia Brightwell, Jarrod Hill (J16 boys’ bronze medallist), Wiremu Maxwell, Mihi Aston, Aoatea Gardner and Alyssa Herbert.
QUALIFIERS: Mareikura paddlers will work hard to get ready for the world club sprint championships at Hawaii in August. Among the qualifiers are, front (from left): J16 paddler Aoatea Gardner and golden master women’s crew members Denise Tapp, Mihi Aston, Carolyn Hodgkinson and Raipoia Brightwell. Back: J16 Nga Tama Toa and Nga Tama Taniwha crew members Zekei Collier, Hunter Hewson, Raumati Rakuraku, Jarrod Hill, Antonio Williams, Kyan Karauria and Wiremu Maxwell.