Hawke's Bay rower Paddy McInnes is hoping "Big Mo" will be on the side of his New Zealand eight crew to ensure they don't catch any crabs in the water as they embark on a trip to Europe next month.

"We're coming out of the national champs in Twizel with the Waikato men's eight in February where we set a record," says McInnes, whose crew followed that up with a solid performance at the national trials in March and says the crew is banking on carrying that momentum onto the international stage.

The Kiwi contingent, who jet off on June 9, will compete at the World Rowing Cup II in Poznan, Poland, from June 15-18, and then the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland, from July 7-9.

Before that the national rowers will line up at a regatta in England (Henley Royal) on June 10 as a dress rehearsal to the Poznan cup.


The 24-year-old, born in Wairoa to a farming family but now based in Cambridge, has switched from a coxless four crew to an eight. He, Drikus Conradie, Axel Dickinson and Anthony Allen missed the cut to the Rio Olympics last year.

The former Napier Boys' High School pupil's transition to a bigger crew is not by choice but what Rowing New Zealand wants although he says it won't surprise him if the national body selects a four to the World Rowing Championship Sarosota-Bradenton in Florida, United States, from September 24 to October 1.

"My priority is the eight now, taking them from the world cup to the world champs," says the bloke who occupies the No6 seat.

For McInnes, the biggest adjustment is tuning into cockswain Caleb Shepherd's dialogue which includes barking instructions the coach lays down and delegating roles.

"It is really good for me because the men's four was more structured and now we have that in a bigger boat," he says, mindful once the little general perched at the stern of the shell opens his mouth everyone else in the boat zips up.

The other crew members are stroke Issac Granger, Brooke Robertson, Stephen Jones, Shaun Kirkham, Drikus Conradie, Alex Kennedy, and James Lasche (bow seat). The other Bay rower in the Kiwi contingent is Giacomo Thomas in the men's quad.

McInnes, whose parents live in Havelock North, was in Hastings last Friday to help Bay-based manuka honey producer The True Honey Co and food guardians Garden to Table Trust launch a bee education programme.

The trust is a charitable organisation that is geared towards educating primary-aged children.

"It's quite big in Auckland and it's just started at Haumoana School to get Hawke's Bay schools to come on board."

McInnes, who is extramurally pursuing a certificate in apiculture (beekeeping) via Telford in Christchurch, says the Garden to Table curriculum provides youngsters a platform for lifelong healthy habits.

"They grow a garden and they learn about sustainable farming and cooking," he says, after working in tandem with True Honey Co beekeeper Amanda Cunningham to impart knowledge to Years 3 and 4 pupils on the productive flying insects, making honey and pollination.

The pair also engaged the class through activities and a honey-sampling quiz before planting bee-friendly manuka bushes in the school's kitchen garden.

Adrian Barr, the chief operating officer at True Honey, says the children's enthusiasm for learning how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal food was inspiring.

"Understanding the important role bees play in pollination and how much we rely on our stripey friends is key to conserving our bee population," says Barr in a statement.

True Honey founder Jim McMillan saluted Garden to Table's drive to mould children's attitudes towards food.

"We carefully considered how to add value to what they were doing in our own small way and decided that developing a bee education resource for their teachers would be a useful way to share our knowledge and passion for bees and bee conservation," says McMillan, after the company found traction with science teacher Claire Velzian in disseminating the benefits.

It thrilled Garden to Table executive officer Linda Taylor to see children find that magical balance that makes nature tick.

Beyond the development of the bee education unit, the company supports the trust through an ongoing annual donation and proceeds from every jar of its manuka honey sold goes to the trust.

Schools involved in the full online Garden to Table programme also receive honey so pupils can use it as an ingredient in their cooking.

True Honey Co started marketing in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

It hopes to find a similar education partner in the UK. McMillan has designs on global celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.