Mount Maunganui College is New Zealand's top surfing school.

It is hard to refute that after winning five consecutive national secondary school titles.

But the school can also lay claim to being arguably among the best anywhere in the world for producing talent.

Obviously that is a little more difficult to quantify but at the recent 2016 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championship held off the coast of Portugal, four current Mount College students in team captain Kehu Butler, Raiha Ensor, Jonas Tawharu and Elin Tawharu, plus former students Lea Ririnui and Kea Smith, were in the New Zealand team that finished 10th.


It was the best performance by a New Zealand junior surfing team at the worlds for years.

New Zealand coach and Mount Maunganui College teacher in charge of surfing, Kahn Butler, says it has been a magic ride this year.

"The kids at this school have really dug in deep and now they have the results to prove it.
"Raiha got third at the international Rip Curl in Hawaii for the second year in a row. Kehu made third last year and got second this year.

"Jonas Tawharu has done really well locally, cleaning up in the under-20s with some of the other guys away overseas, and his sister Elin was the first podium finisher at the World ISA games since Matt Hewitt nine years ago, another Mount boy, and Paige Hareb. So that was a huge effort."

Butler says he is pretty sure no other school had that many surfers represented at the world juniors in Portugal.

"I would say that is so as I do know a lot of the other kids overseas are pretty much full time professionals now.

"They have been home schooled for so long, even from a really young age. You won't find too many that are actually in a full enrolled school that are at the top level of surfing.

"For our kids to be battling for their academics and to do both worlds is pretty amazing and they have all done really well. It is just shows the character of how hard they work, not only in surfing but in academics and life as well.

"As a coach it was pretty humbling because this is my first year actually taking the reins and coaching, not just managing. We also had local guy Damian Galvin who did really well at organising everyone which left me to really concentrate on coaching."

Ironically the secret to producing top surfers year after year is not having the perfect surf break to train on.

"Even though there are inconsistent waves here at the Mount, except for the [Matakana] Island which is the best wave in the world, the kids learn to get their speed out of no power at all," Butler said.

"Their technique actually flourishes because they have to be perfect in surfing these waves.

"It makes them hungry to surf out on every little thing they get. When they get to good waves it is just a lot easier for them."