Whānau is the main message for Northland clubs as they rake in the medals at the waka ama nationals at Lake Karapiro this week.

Northland paddling clubs had already claimed nine medals after just four days of competing.

Four of the six local clubs had seen gold, with Waitangi Piripi from the Ngā Hoe Hōro Outrigger Canoe club winning the intermediate women's singles 500 metre and Richard Pehi from the Parihaka Waka Ama club winning the senior master men's single 500m.

Both clubs, Mitamitaga o le Pasefika Va'a-alo and Kaihoe o Ngati Rehia Trust, won gold when they teamed up for the W12 (12 person), 250m, midget men (under 10) final on Tuesday.

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The crew from Mitamitaga, named 'Miti Mayhem', also finished second in the six-person version of this race on the same day.

"We weren't really expecting to do as well as we did, but we definitely worked hard enough for it and it was just unfortunate we didn't win the W6 final," team coach William Kaipo said.

"You can't just turn up and win these events, you've got to put in the work and our kids did that and have done for a number of years."

The Miti Mayhem team of Antonio Galpin, Nikau Henry, Matahi Heta, Tamatea Davis, Waiora Heta and Tawhai Kaipo had been together for about three years and had now reached their last year as part of the midget division.

Northland's winning youngsters: Antonio Galpin (left), Nikau Henry, Matahi Heta, Tamatea Davis, Waiora Heta and Tawhai Kaipo. Photo / Gerrick Cameron
Northland's winning youngsters: Antonio Galpin (left), Nikau Henry, Matahi Heta, Tamatea Davis, Waiora Heta and Tawhai Kaipo. Photo / Gerrick Cameron

"They are a bunch of pretty hard-out kids and they got their name because they were just mayhem when they were 6- and 7-year-olds," Kaipo said.

"We've just worked with them all the way through and they are that much stronger, that much more experienced and they have really grown through the sport."

The young paddlers were presented with their medals from Mitamitaga club legend Pili Muaulu, who was instrumental in the formation of the national competition 30 years ago.

"For our kids to receive the gold medals from him, that was amazing for us but he was particularly humbled by it too, which was great," Kaipo said.

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The coach of about four years said while all clubs competed strongly, it was fairness and enjoyment which underlined the spirit of the competition.

It's a very whānau environment, even though we go down there and we are racing against these other clubs, we are all shaking each others hands and it's really positive.

"There are some really big regions like Auckland who come down with a big contingency of paddlers and so for little old Northland, we work hard in our whānau clubs to support each other."

Kaipo said the key was to promote an environment which allowed children to learn good values.

"For these kids, they grow through the competition and build discipline and the desire to succeed in a positive, smoke-free, and drug and alcohol-free environment.

"It's just good positive affirmations of whānau, if it wasn't good for our kids we wouldn't be doing it."

Five-time premier men's champion couldn't make it six in a row after he finished second on Thursday to Tahiti's Manutea Millon by about two seconds. The competition ends today.