In the lead up to the 2018 NZ Secondary School Ki o Rahi Nationals, held 16th & 17th April 2018 we will focus in on the teams that you will need to prepare for, these teams include current and past champions as well as teams on the rise.
This week we do our final review of teams - this week we look at UAWA, Te Ara Hou and Kawakawa mai Tawhiti.
Tolaga Bay Area School (UAWA)
Tolaga Bay Area School or UAWA were the very first Ki o Rahi National Champions way back in 2010. Since then, other notable finishes in the last 5 years have been a 7th in Gisborne 2015, and two 5th place finishes in Wellington 2014 and in Tokoroa in 2016.
A small Kura on the East Coast with a roll of less than 300 from Years 1 – 13, they punch well above their weight and have been one of the big drivers of Ki o Rahi around the country for a long time. It is often the case with small Kura, that they can only utilise the students they have enrolled and sometimes they may only have a small amount of senior students to choose from – let alone enjoy and be good at sport.
Whatever the case, UAWA still managed to qualify for Nationals in 2017 however once in Auckland they finished 18th out of 21 schools. A big drop from 5th to 18th so they’ll be looking to bounce back with a strong performance this year in Gisborne, being closer to home might help to get the team and supporters they desire along. These things make a huge difference. Kia kaha UAWA!
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti is a small Kura based in the in Hicks Bay on the East Coast. Kawakawa mai Tawhiti have been attending Ki o Rahi Nationals for a while with a 9th place finish in Tokoroa 2016, a 12th place in Auckland 2017 and a 13th in Gisborne 2015.
Kawakawa mai Tawhiti with their distinctive blue and orange uniform often have some cool gears come National time - we remember seeing them in hunting and fishing style orange camo gears one year. But beyond the gears, Kawakawa mai Tawhiti are an awesome little team with a few years of experience they've been hanging around the middle of the table for a few years now, hopefully they've evaluated their strengths and weaknesses and are coming to 2018 Nationals ready to move up the ranks!
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Ara Hou
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Ara Hou are a small Kura based in Napier. Te Ara Hou have been regular competitors at Ki o Rahi Nationals. Last year they had their best finish ever with an 8th place in Auckland. This was after a 15th place finish in Gisborne 2016, so they are huge improvers. We watched Te Ara Hou play last year and they gave the good teams a real good go, they weren't always so successful against them but they definitely made these types of teams work.
In Auckland last year during their pool play they played and beat UAWA, Aotea and Rotorua Boys and Girls. They also narrowly lost to Rakaumanga by 3 points, the score was 30 - 27 meaning that Te Ara Hou definitely know how to score points, defending them however might be their area in need of attention.
Te Ara Hou jumped from 15th to 8th in the space of a couple of years, so after tasting Quarter Final Ki o Rahi for the first time in 2017 you can bet they want to be there again. We can see them pushing hard for the top 8 once more in 2018, which makes for a really tightly contested top 8.
Over the past 6 weeks we've looked at Nga Tapuwae, Rakaumanga, Hamilton Boys and Girls, Turanga Wahine Turanga Tane, Mana, Dannevirke, Ritana and Tokoroa. If all these schools are in attendance then we see this being the top 8 for 2018, however, that still leaves out schools like UAWA, Te Ara Hou and Aotea who have shown in the past that they are no easy beats.
Schools have another 6 weeks time to work on their gameplay and strategies before the 2018 champion is crowned!