A rising hockey star from Kaikohe and his trophy-amassing team have been honoured by a member of New Zealand's Olympic hockey squad.

Black Stick Brooke Neal, of Whangarei, dropped in to Kaikohe Christian School yesterday as part of an Olympic Committee effort to get Kiwi Olympians out to every corner of the country.

The school chose Ms Neal because of her Northland origins and because the students are hockey-mad. She talked to students about goal-setting and her path to Rio, and presented awards to the school's top achievers - not least 16-year-old Rio Komene-Pou, who captains the hockey team.

Under Rio's leadership the Kaikohe Christian School Crusaders have won more trophies than teacher and hockey co-ordinator Trish Vesey can keep track of.


Rio also plays for the Maungakaramea under-18s and the New Zealand Maori squad.

Rio was impressed that Ms Neal had come to visit.

Mrs Vesey said she had high hopes for Rio's future.

"He's a natural athlete, he could play any sport. He's also done a great job as captain, helping the young ones, coming and passing on the skills he's learnt."

Mrs Vesey said the school's 187 pupils were "very excited" about the visit.

"It's a hockey school and to meet someone who's competed at the Olympics is a big thing. We all need role models."

Ms Neal's visit showed students that Northlanders could achieve anything they wanted, as long as they put in the effort and had the support of their whanau and community.

Ms Neal was born in Whangarei and played in the same Whangarei Girls' High team as Sam and Charlotte Harrison, Alana Millington and Jasmin McQuinn when they won the country's top secondary school competition.

She represented New Zealand at the 2013 Women's Hockey Junior World Cup and made her national debut in the same year.

She competed in the 2015 Oceania Cup and represented New Zealand at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Her brother Shay is also a national hockey rep.