Mount Maunganui surfers Kehu Butler and Raiha Ensor have been named as part of a six-strong New Zealand Surfing team to compete at the ISA World Surfing Games in Japan between September 15-22.
Ensor is the youngest of the female surfers at 18. She is in her first year at Waikato University where she secured a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship. Ensor has been part of the team for the past two years.
It will be the first time that Ricardo Christie and Kehu Butler will compete at the event, both surfers having only contested the ISA World Junior Championships previously.
Butler, 18, is contesting his final year of junior events. He is currently fourth in the WSL Australasian Pro Junior Series with three events remaining this year and has been part of the New Zealand Junior Surfing Team for the past four years.
Christie, 29, has been primarily focused on qualifying for the WSL World Tour, a feat he achieved in 2014.
He spent 2015 contesting both tours before being relegated back to the World Qualifying Series in 2016.
Butler and Ensor are joined by Paige Hareb (Taranaki), Ella Williams (Whangamata), Christie (Gisborne) and Billy Stairmand (Raglan). The reserve is Elin Tawharu (Mount Maunganui). The team is widely regarded as the strongest team in more than a decade to be fielded at the event.
They will compete against about 250 athletes from 50 nations at the event.
The Kiwi team will contest a number of international events before September, with several athletes travelling to Japan directly from Europe where they will be competing in the World Qualifying Series.
Surfers will use the recently established Mount Maunganui-based high performance camps in preparation for the World Surfing Games. The first camp was staged in April, with 30 aspiring athletes in attendance, with the next starting on June 30.