The future stars of waka ama battled it out at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) this week.
The Te Wananga o Aotearoa Waka Ama National Secondary School Championships saw almost 1800 students from 118 schools take to the water from Tuesday to today and the sun came out to play its part.
Te Waiariki Purea Trust event co-ordinator Kelley Korau said the week had been fantastic.
"It has all run on time and a little bit ahead of time on some days, it's all down to the weather really. If the weather is good the racing is good, the kids are happy, the parents are happy and the staff are happy.
"[The level of competition] has been pretty intense because it's quite a short race, so you've got to be on to it right from the beginning. It's really close racing.
"Gisborne are always strong, Rotorua have been quite competitive in the past, most of our local schools have made it through to championship finals this week," Korau said.
She said there were many benefits for children who were involved in waka ama.
"It keeps them busy, positive and active. We have a policy in our kaupapa which is no deep-fried foods and no fizzy to be sold on site during the four days. We try to encourage our kids to be healthy, lifestyle is the key."
Rotorua Girls' High School coach Tui McCaull, an accomplished paddler herself, said it had been a "really good week".
"We had two teams, both J16s, and our top age-group girls went through to the championship finals and won two silver medals, which is exciting for them. Our baby team, which is mostly Year 9 students, managed to make championship semis.
"Those young ones have been amazing, they get to see a lot of role models out there doing it and it has made them that much hungrier to come back and paddle some more.
"It's such a good atmosphere here, it's quite relaxed, but also really supportive and encouraging of everybody. You've got girls and boys that are world champions already and have paddled at that elite level, and you have kids that picked up a paddle for the first time five weeks ago," McCaull said.
Rotorua Girls' have several paddlers with exciting events on the horizon.
"Six of our girls are in a team of seven going to represent New Zealand at the world championships in Tahiti in July. They've still been paddling, but had a bit of downtime, and now they're going to start really gearing up for that.
"There's also Khobi Paretoa, 14, she won silver in the W1 250m this week and is going to the world champs to represent New Zealand in the singles. She is so dedicated, ridiculously dedicated for someone her age. In the last two years she has committed 100 per cent to waka ama, it's great to see all the hard work she's put in paying off," McCaull said.
Full results will be available at wakaama.co.nz in the coming days.