Ngā Hoe Horo Waka Ama club has come home triumphant from the national long distance championships in Picton over the weekend triumphant, with a hoard of 11 gold medals, six silver and five bronze.
Team Tiare coach Chev Reti said the club's juniors, boys and girls, had been particularly impressive this year, following a strong national sprint campaign in January with another powerful showing in the long distance championships.
Team Tiare won gold in the J16 girls' division, all six of the team also racing in singles events. Waitangi Piripi won gold and Chelsea Reti bronze in the rudderless singles race, then a back to back race in the ruddered singles saw Chelsea collect gold and team mate Āria Heta silver.
The Black Broncos J16 men's team this time comprised a combination from the three original waka ama clubs in New Zealand, two from Ngā Hoe Horo, two from Mitamitaga o Le Pasifika (Whangārei), and two from Mareikura Waka Ama (Gisborne). It had very much been a case of needs must according to Black Broncos coach Jason Reti.
"Due to the cost of getting to Picton from Kaitaia we knew we couldn't afford to take six boys ourselves, so we came up with the idea of amalgamating the three oldest clubs in the country and showing what that depth of experience and club culture can do when we work together for a common goal," he said.
"Those boys went on to win double gold in the J16 and J19 men's distance divisions, as well as all competing in the single waka races each day, totalling 46km each over two days. They left everything on the water."
And it paid off, the Broncos making a clean sweep of the J16 men's rudderless singles (Jarrod Hill gold, Elite Reti silver, Tama Heta bronze), with Romaine Reti and Raumati Rakuraku winning gold and silver respectively in the ruddered J16 men's singles. They also dominated the older J19 men's division, Taonui Henry winning gold and Romaine Reti silver in the ruddered singles following Jarrod Hill's silver and Tama Heta's bronze in the rudderless division.
Longtime champs Herberts On Tour sealed the deal, taking out gold in the open Men's 24km team race, with Tupuria King taking double gold in both the open men's ruddered and rudderless 16km W1 races, and team mate Stephen Roulston earning the silver medal in the rudderless division.
Other notable performances included David King's bronze in the Golden Master men's rudderless and Chev Reti's bronze in the open women's ruddered race.
And having set the standard, Ngā Hoe Horo was determined to maintain it.
"Tai Tokerau is hosting next year's long distance nationals at Waitangi, so it was really important for us to get to Picton and show the calibre of distance racers we have in the North," Chev Reti said.
"We're lucky to be surrounded by varied water conditions on the east and west coasts, as well as rivers, harbour water and lakes. Our junior and senior paddlers across Northland can be exposed to conditions that many around the country would be envious of, and we hope to be able to show some of that next year at Waitangi."