Kataraina Brown and her twin sister Kimila are part of a thriving sporting scene at Alfriston College.

There are striking similarities between two sporting "pocket rockets" and, as luck would have it, their paths crossed at the recent Maori Sports awards.

Both Lisa Carrington and Kataraina (Kata to her mates) Brown are exceptional talents in their chosen water sports. Carrington, someone Brown looks up to, and says is "real pretty and a lot of fun," is the Olympic K1 200m champion and Brown is heading to the top in waka ama.

Not that Brown and her twin sister Kimila knew what they were getting into when approached five years ago.

"A friend asked us to do it for fun," said Brown. "I didn't know what it was. I thought it was like rowing or kayaking. I had played netball at intermediate school and was looking for something else."


Now very much part of the sporting scene at Alfriston College, the sisters were awarded blues this year with Kata going on to be named Junior Maori Sportswoman of the Year at the ceremony at which Carrington took the ultimate prize.

"We started in a six-person waka but since then I have done the single and the 12," said Brown. "My preference is the six-person."

She usually sits in the one seat - much like a stroke in rowing - with her sister "down the back and doing the steering".

Already her chosen sport has taken her to Canada and New Caledonia and even Tahiti where she tagged the experience as "really cool" and great to be in a country where waka ama is like their national sport.

"The big one would be a trip to Hawaii which our club is hoping to do at the end of next year."

Alfriston College might not be up there with the heavyweights of Auckland secondary school sport but there is no denying they are turning heads.

A decile three school in Manurewa, Alfriston College is a young school - only operating from Year 9-13 for five years. This year's roll was 1338 with a good ethnic mix with 435 Maori pupils, 307 Pacific Islanders, 262 Asian, 260 Europeans and 56 classed as "other". They enjoy their cultural diversity.

In sports regarded as "traditional", the school enjoys success with netball and touch leading the way. Rugby is growing with several under-15 players making it into the Counties squad with a couple singled out for Counties/Steelers development programmes.

The school runs a very strong inter-whanau sports programme with emphasis on participation and enjoyment first and foremost but, from the competitive side, they celebrated when 10 of their students represented New Zealand in their chosen sports.

Their New Zealand representatives, who all received blues this year (and the sport at which they gained international recognition) were Keanu Singsame (under-17 basketball), Thomas Heather (ice hockey/inline hockey), Ethan Taylor (touch), Rory Marshall Barton (touch), Teresa Tuhi (touch), Sydnei Latu (touch), Kate Henderson (water polo) and Lauryn Steed and Milla and Kata Brown (waka ama).

•This is the last college sport for the year. It will resume in the new year.