NZ’s U23 Men’s team – fired up!

The team of Samuel Harrison, Draxson Kerr, Aperahama Hurihanganui, Matt Barnard, Christy Hammond, Isaac Tracey, Roretana Kerr, Conner Hamilton is the first ever U23 men’s team to be entered in the worlds to represent New Zealand. Several of these guys have been rafting for the past five years.

They first got together back in April 2013 and competed in their first race which was the National Selections. They were 1 of 2 teams to compete in the U23 men’s category. Samuel Harrison introduces us to his team.

In order to known a team better I always ask: What do you do besides rafting?

“Besides rafting we have a wealth of talent among our team. Most of the team white water kayak and a few of us also white water sledge/ river board. Connor is a national mountain bike champion and Ape is national waka-ama champion. With all the team members come a lot of rafting experience while working as raft guides since we were old enough to gain the relevant qualifications.”

Working on stories with teams from NZ I understand that as soon as they have the ability to become rafting guides they do, compared to Europe where this is rare. And therefore NZ has young people with so many years of rafting experience. This is great and something that NZ can look at making better use of for the sport of rafting. I hope that the WRC will give all of them extra motivation for the sport of rafting.

NZ U23

Do you have a coach?

“We don’t have any coach for the team but we use the knowledge and guidance from the men’s and women’s rafting teams to help train and perfect our team skills. We are working together as a team and with the help of the U23 ladies in order to accomplish our goals:

1. Becoming U23 World Champions 2013.

2. Promoting white water rafting not just as a tourism activity but a sport/hobby and career for our younger generation to carry on the legacy.

3. Advertise the importance of water safety through the sport and how we can enjoy the water while being as safe as possible.”

Their goals are excellent and show their maturity. Most importantly, they are realistic and achievable.

“I would also mention Amy Scott as she is our newly appointed team manager. She has been a big success since she joined our team about 1 month ago. She is helping us out tremendously!! Thank you Amy! “

I’ve seen that the teams from New Zealand have a special dance before an event, and a song with words that go with it, something that’s just special to New Zealanders, do you have some dance?

“In New Zealand Maori culture it has been a long standing tradition for a Powhiri ‘welcoming’ to be performed to any manuhiri ‘visitors’ from either New Zealand or International. A powhiri will include a karanga ‘calling’ performed by a women from the Tangata Whenua ‘host’. This karanga performed in Te Reo Maori ‘maori language’ will be relevant to the event that has brought the two or more parties together. A wero ‘challenge’ will sometimes be performed towards the manuhiri for then the manuhiri can respect and except the wero. As seen on TV the All Blacks (New Zealand Rugby Team) do the most famous Haka ‘war dance’. Most New Zealand teams of any sport perform a HAKA to their opposition before they compete.

It will be wonderful to see during the event.

Do you see an advantage in that you are competing at home?

“As we are from New Zealand we have the racing rivers on our back door which will give us a slight advantage come race day. We have heard that there will be some great competition out there and we can’t wait to get amongst the awesome vibe that will be at the worlds 2013.”

The competition is more than excellent and certainly you will enjoy competing against them. Czechs are the guys that need extra attention. ;)

Which discipline does your team like the most?

“I can’t say what discipline we prefer but we will be loving every second as we compete for the number 1 spot on the leader board.”

Do you have a sponsors?

“We are currently looking for sponsors and funding to help us achieve our goals. But I would like to thank the support we have had from all the New Zealand teams to date. Their knowledge and wisdom will always be needed and they have our support all the way. Also everyone in the industry who has helped us to keep pushing forwards towards success. Tena Koutou!”

This young team is not afraid of their competitors, they are eager to measure their strength against them, and the WRC is a fantastic opportunity to do so. Like all the other young teams we want them to persevere and to see them for a long time in future competitions. Good luck guys :)

Their facebook page – NewZealandU23mensraftingteam

Article by Nada