Huntly's Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga won the national secondary schools ki o rahi tournament title in Hastings today.

For the third consecutive year Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga took on Mangere's Te Kura Maori o Nga Tapuwae in the final and they stopped their Auckland opponents completing a three-peat of titles with a 13-11 victory at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park.

A combined Hastings Girls' High School-Hastings Boys' High School team did the best of the four Hawke's Bay sides in the 35-team nationals with a third placing. They were beaten 16-13 by Te Wharekura o Rakaumangamanga in their semifinal.

"That's the best a Hawke's Bay team has done in the nine-year history of the nationals so we're happy with that," said former Hastings Girls' High School captain Melissa Paul-Bartlett, who co-coached the side with former Hastings Boys' High School player Reuben Saunders.


"I finished school last year after captaining our team from my Year 10 days. It was good to step up to the coaching role. This is the third year we have played with Hastings Boys who played with Hukarere College last year when we didn't go to nationals," Paul-Bartlett explained.

She singled out Raedeen Blake and Renee Karaitiana as the pick of the HGHS players while Saunders said Marcus Moat and Latrell Ah Kiong, a member of New Zealand Secondary Schools Sevens team which won their world championship last year, were the best of the HBHS players.

Three of the boys and one of the girls will leave school this year and both Paul-Bartlett and Saunders agreed if their combined side improved their defensive work they will have a good chance of reaching the final when Tai Tokerau host the nationals next year.

Karamu High School were the next best of the Bay teams with a top eight finish after losing to Te Kura Maori o Nga Tapuwae in the quarterfinals. The combined Hukarere College-Te Aute College side finished in the top 16 while fellow newcomers Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu made the top 24.