Thinking of sending your sporty kids to Auckland Grammar? Or Kings College?

No need -- Whangarei's Otangarei suburb is producing regional and national representatives at a sports academy where the membership fees are two boxes of cornflakes or rice bubbles per school term.

The Hakinakina Champions programme was established three school terms ago by the Te Hau Awhiowhio o Otangarei Trust with funding from Te Puni Kokiri. Project manager Marcelle Kaipo had noticed a lack of opportunities for young people.

The cost per term is two boxes of Cornflakes or Rice Bubbles and after training the kids are dropped at school in a van provided by Te Hau Awhiowhio o Otangarei Trust.


"For us it was important to keep the cost low to remove any barriers," he said.

"If we look at rugby in Northland and ... the under-10 reps, you have all these kids with natural talent. But then you go down the track a few years and they've fallen off," he said.

The programme, run at City Rugby Club, started with five students aged 8 to 14 and now has 19 young people on board. The academy has students who play representative-level touch rugby, basketball, waka ama, and regional rugby. Mr Kaipo's son Brooklyn has made the New Zealand Storm under-13 basketball team that will tour America in July.

Mr Kaipo said the students train from 6am to 8am every Monday and Wednesday during the school term and the wake-up time requires a high level of determination and work ethic.

The training is run military-style with lots of cardio.

"I have 8-year-olds who make their lunch the night before and pack their uniform and get their clothes ready, wake up at 5.30am and be dropped off at 6am to training. I coach rugby and I see 18-year-olds asking their mum where their boots are."

Mr Kaipo said the Hakinakina Champions programmes is non-for profit so any support is appreciated.

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