A remarkable group of Whanganui teenagers and their waka ama coach feature in a 15-minute film at this year's Doc Edge International Film Festival.
River Queens: Highlight My Strengths was made in 2018 by United States director Jeremy Lurgio.
It follows a group of teenage girls training for the 2018 Waka Ama Sprint Nationals at Lake Karapiro.
Their coach, Howard Hyland, is a former national coach and paddler who returned to Whanganui in 2017.
He was not born in Whanganui but his grandmother lived at Kaiwhaiki Pā and he felt a yearning for the Whanganui River.
On his return he started the Whanganui River Outrigger Canoe Club and the girls joined as individuals who had never tried paddling before.
They were a fantastic group, with a tenacity, bravery and focus equal to national women's teams Hyland has coached.
"I had experienced that, but I didn't expect it. It was totally unexpected," he said.
In 2017 he wanted to show them the full meaning of waka ama and the river by challenging them to paddle 100km from Pipiriki to Pākaitore in one day.
They achieved that in late September, with hundreds watching their return to Whanganui.
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The next year he challenged them again, to compete in the sprint nationals. Their aim was to reach the finals - something that normally takes a team three to four years.
They gave up their holidays for an intensive three week training, sometimes staying at the clubhouse and getting up at 6am to run up the Durie Hill steps.
Lurgio came on the scene then, and filmed the training and the nationals. He got on well with the group but kept his distance and didn't set anything up. The filming was "raw", Hyland said.
The girls bonded like sisters, and gave their all to the training.
"If I told one of them to get out of the waka in the middle of the winter and swim, they would do it."
They competed in race after race at Lake Karapiro, and made the finals.
"When we finished up our final race we all got together. There was tears, I can tell you. There was tears from everybody," Hyland said.
He remembers it all as "a lovely, lovely journey", and the girls as exceptional.
They got older and left the club. He still hears from them, and from Lurgio. Now 78, he's still paddling with younger men.
"I'm out there with those young boys. I lead the team, so I must be doing alright," he said.
The Doc Edge International Film Festival runs from June 12 to July 5 with its 80-plus documentaries will be viewable online.