Ngā Hoe Horo coach Jason Reti, who trains his team, the Black Broncos, twice a day, works as hard as any of his paddlers.
"Almost five hours a day is spent picking them up, training them, feeding them and dropping them off again, but it's worth the sacrifice knowing that we're helping to grow great members of our community to understand that you can accomplish great things when you work hard for it," he said earlier And accomplish great things they did in Auckland last weekend, as did the club's second youth team that took part in the inaugural George Pomana Memorial Regatta on the Manukau Harbour, Team Tiare.
The event, aimed mainly at youth development, was only in its second year, and was the first waka ama regatta to be held in Auckland since the second Covid-19 lockdown, attracting a horde of participants, including 82 youth.
And it was the Black Broncos and Team Tiare who dominated the J16 racing.
The Black Broncos won the boys' team event over 10km, and completed a clean sweep of the top 5 W1 placings in a competitive J16 field over 8km, Romaine Reti first, Elite Reti second, Drezel Williams third, Byron Pomare fourth and Taonui Henry fifth.
Team Tiare, the current national intermediate grade sprint champions, paddled up a division in J16s, winning the team event over the 10km course and taking out five of the top places - Waitangi Piripi first, Chelsea Reti third, Eternity Williams fifth, Atiria Hotere Thompson eighth and Judy Heta ninth.
The Far North paddlers are all part of a collaboration between Mauri Education and Ngā Hoe Horo Waka Ama Club, aimed at developing youth potential by teaching them strategies to work as a team, help in their community and train hard to earn success.
Chev Reti said Team Tiare had been together since the girls were five and six years old, and had become renowned in the paddling community not only as great paddlers but also the best cheer squad a paddler can have.
"These girls understand that it isn't all about winning, its about supporting those around you to do and be better too," their coach said.
In addition to training, both two teams were expected to spend time each week coaching younger paddlers and volunteering to beautify a section of Lake Ngatu, as well as keeping up with school commitments.
"We know it seems like a lot, but as busy members of our community we know how important it is for rangatahi to learn that good things don't just fall out of the sky. Learning the value of work is hugely important in this day and age, when so many youth sit around on digital devices or roam town getting into trouble," Chev said.
That work ethic and civic responsibility had shone through in Auckland, not only with the placings achieved but having their efforts recognised by winning the George Pomana Memorial trophy, awarded to the club that embodied the values of Waka Ama NZ, Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, Hauora, Tū Tangata, Wairuatanga.
"The final sweetener to the day was a massive stroke of luck with two paddlers from Team Tiare winning brand new paddles and a brand new one-man waka from Fai Va'a," she added.
"The whole event was amazingly run, from behind the scenes workers to the MC to the sponsors (MTF Finance Manukau, Moana Fisheries and Fai Va'a). This will definitely become an annual event for us, and we'd encourage junior coaches from around the country to make this a key youth event for their teams."