Napier Girls' High School responded to an SOS from a contingent of touring Argentinian school pupils last year and now that goodwill gesture has blossomed into not just a sporting exchange but also a cultural experience.
"Last year they got let down by a team in the preparations so they've contacted us at the last minute and that's how it started," said coach Conrad Knapp, after the NGHS schoolgirls played two games of hockey against St John's School from Buenos Aires yesterday afternoon.
More than 100 pupils are touring the North Island playing hockey, rugby and softball.
"This is the second year ... so it was good for them to come back to play," Knapp said.
He believed St John's School would not return next year but would in 2020.
While most of the Rileigh Knapp-captained NGHS First XI team members, who overwhelmed St John's first team 5-0 at the hockey stadium in Park Island, won't play against the Argentines in their next trip they are quite keen to be part of a reciprocal trip to Buenos Aires if the idea gathered any momentum.
Coach Knapp would love to see that eventuate but was mindful such proposals require planning and a substantial financial commitment and drive.
Daughter Rileigh, who played against the touring school last year, said it was great to have had the opportunity to play a team not from New Zealand.
The Argentines brought a different brand of hockey to enable them to put their team tactics to the test.
NGHS, she said, employed lots of short passes on the platform of speed and numerous counter-attacks.
"I would say they are very fast as well but they like to transition the ball a little bit more before they go forward," said Rileigh, revealing the visitors had a penchant for playing strong in the air.
The 16-year-old was keen on making a reciprocal trip to lend some credence to what had potential to be a proper exchange before she graduated from NGHS at the end of next year.
"It would be so good [to go next year]," she said with a laugh.
Andrew Vezey, the photographer and video analyst for the cultural side of the tour, said they had an under-16, hockey, rugby and softball sides on the 18-day tour.
"We've spent time in a Maori village in Rotorua so we've been having a wonderful evening here, too," he said. "We've loved the welcomes and goodbyes and the extreme hospitality in between."
Vezey rated the tour a success with "incredibly a country of extremely nice people".
The sports teams depart from Auckland on Saturday and the cultural group on Sunday, after leaving here this morning.
Vezey, who is a Scotsman but lives and works in the capital city of Argentina, became the spokesman because he had been designated the main English speaker in the contingent.
He felt the pupils would leave New Zealand much richer for the total experience because their lifestyle was in contrast, in many respects, to here.
"That has been more recognisable than anything else on the tour," he said.
Vezey said when they watched the All Blacks beat the French at Eden Park, Auckland, last Saturday night it was great to see the national rugby team "completely behind the Maori culture, even the people who are non-Maori".
"That has been the most impressive thing culturally here, I think," he said, delighted to be soaking up the experience as adults while minding the teenagers.
As far as Vezey was aware, the Argentines hadn't toured South Island but would contemplate it considering some of the breathtaking scenery there.
Knapp said the age of players from the first XI hockey was probably the key difference.
"We were a bit stronger and they have a young team but they have some really good stick skills," he said, adding his girls had a crisper passing game.
The NGHS First XI are predominantly 16- to 17-year-olds whereas the tourists had some 15-year-olds.
Kaitlin Cotter and sister Hannah Cotter claimed two goals each and Jess Moffett the other after they led 3-0 at halftime.
The NGHS Second XI pipped their rivals 1-0 in an arm wrestle.
"It was a tight game and the score reflected that," he said. The visitors had mounted waves of attacks but were unable to deposit the ball into the net.
NGHS Second XI striker Laura Jensen scored the winner in the 21st minute.
The Napier pupils gave their Argentinian counterparts a taste of New Zealand with the NGHS kapa haka group providing a cultural experience.
"They've seen a little bit of Kiwiana as well," he said.
Napier Boys' High School First and Second XVs also played rugby against the Argentines but the results weren't available last night.