Ahead of the national surfing championships, Ava Henderson had to convince her mother to let her enter in the open women's division.

The 14-year-old New Zealand junior representative was going into the event with goals of winning the under-16 girls' title and doing well in the under-18s field; competing in the open division was simply about the love of the sport.

"Nobody really wanted me to do three divisions because they thought I'd be too tired out," Henderson explained to the Herald.

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"I convinced mum to let me do the opens … just kept pestering her about it over Christmas."

Now, Henderson is the New Zealand women's champion.

The Christchurch grommet became the second youngest winner of the open women's division at Dunedin's St Clair beach on Saturday, posting an impressive heat total of 14.03 in the final.

"I am so stoked on the win, I can't really believe it but yeah," she said.

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Auckland's Gabrielle Paul finished second, defending champion Aimee Brown was third and Dunedin's Haley Pascoe was fourth.

Henderson also won the under-18 girls' division, and finished third in the under-16s. So while she came home with more title to her name than she expected, she admitted competing in three divisions took its toll.

"I'm so tired. I did four 25-minute heats today. I can barely move now; I just want to go to sleep."

Ava Henderson during her semifinal in the open women's division. Photo / Photosport
Ava Henderson during her semifinal in the open women's division. Photo / Photosport

In the men's division, Piha's Elliot Paerata-Reid finally claimed his maiden title in his fourth-straight open men's final, overcoming Raglan powerhouse and seven-time national champion Billy Stairmand, Taranaki's Daniel Farr and Hamiltonian Caleb Cutmore.

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Paerata-Reid, who spends much of his year chasing waves on the World Surf League's qualifying series, finished with a heat total of 15.17 of a possible 20.

"I've been dreaming of lifting the trophy up for a while now, so it's good to get the actual feeling," he told Radio Sport.

Elliot Paerata-Reid reacts after winning the open men's title. Photo / Photosport
Elliot Paerata-Reid reacts after winning the open men's title. Photo / Photosport

"It was good to final get on under the belt, so hopefully there's more to come."

Paerata-Reid was also quick to congratulate Henderson on her accomplishments, and said they were a good indicator of the surfing talent in New Zealand.

"It's massive for her to take out the open; she's probably going to be competing in that division for the next 30 years I'd say," he said of Henderson.

"That's super impressive … it just goes to show how good the up and coming youth is here in New Zealand."