Local pride is at the heart of a waka ama crew who are preparing to compete at the IVF Va'a World Sprint Championships in Rio, Brazil.

The Parihaka masters men's crew of Nigel Draper, Matt Kensington, Richard Pehi, Darren Collins, Gordon McKay and Tony Munroe will pull on a New Zealand jersey when they hit the Brazilian waters in August - where they will put the 2016 Olympic facilities to the test.

Munroe is quick to point out competing in Brazil isn't just about representing New Zealand, it is about representing Whangarei.

"We're real local. The town can take ownership for who we are," Munroe said. "We're not only representing New Zealand, we're representing Whangarei when we go away - for me that's a big one.


"There's a bit of community ownership for who we are and what we are doing.

"We're a local team trying to do well on behalf of Whangarei - people can take a bit of local pride in what we're trying to do."

Representing Whangarei comes with its expectations too for this crew, with coach McKay saying they plan on achieving.

The championships will bring the curtain down on two years of planning after McKay and Pehi, a world champion in a single-man waka, recognised the key to winning.

"We realised after worlds in Calgary, Canada, that the teams who cleaned up were the teams who were able to train together the most," McKay said, adding the Parihaka masters men had a squad of 10 who were as good as each other on the water.

"We came back saying if we're going to go up there we'll do that. If you don't get a continuous training regime in place you're not going to fully reach what you can."

Manager Analatu McKay backed up McKay, saying he and Pehi made the call early to build a local crew.

"Two years ago Rich [Pehi] and Gordon decided they would build a solid team from here, and there's a lot of layers involved with that," Analatu said. "You've got all these components to fit into the jigsaw puzzle to build a team, local made."


The Parihaka crew will be fundraising in the coming months. To follow what they're up to search 'Parihaka Master Men' on Facebook.