Auckland Blues players displayed an impressive array of skills as their tour of Northland continued on Wednesday, some stacking shelves at New World in Kerikeri, a few dropping in to Kerikeri Retirement Village and others visiting early childhood centres, but 16 of them braved the wettest day so far this year by taking a waka out on the Bay.
They were joined by students from Northland College and Kaikohe Intermediate, as well as young paddlers from Waitangi Waka Ama kaihoe, on the twin-hulled waka tangata Mahanga, captained by Hone Mihaka.
The weather might not have been quite what they expected in the Winterless North, but they were grinning broadly as they disembarked after their 40-minute paddle from the Waitangi boat ramp out into Tii Bay.
The waka trip celebrated the start of a year-long partnership between the Blues and the police-run youth charity Blue Light, which, thanks in particular to Senior Constable Rob Cameron, has been instrumental in getting youth involved in waka ama at Waitangi.
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Northland College head boy Wayne Hetaraka and head girl Diarvion Kukutai were among those who got a drenching on Wednesday, Diarvion saying she was grateful to the players for taking time out to go paddling with her school mates, adding that she was considering switching allegiance from the NRL's Raiders to Super Rugby and the Blues.
''It was cool and exciting, but it was challenging too, because of the weather and the paddling as well," she said.