Waitara High School's mixed touch team books spot at national secondary school finals
23 Mar 2017
One year after just missing out Waitara High School's mixed touch team is off to the national finals.
Last year the team came fourth in the Zone 4 Secondary Schools Regional Touch Tournament, which is contested by teams from the lower North Island.
Though their result was a good one, just the top three teams go on to the national competition.
But after a year of training, the team booked a spot in this year's final in December by coming second in the same tournament this week.
In the weeks leading up to the tournament in Palmerston North, the team had been training three times a week and many players had been practising on their own, team manager Kelly Moeahu said.
They're playing touch or training up to six times a week," he said.
The team won their first three games and while they went down in the final game to Manukura, they had still done enough to get through.
"We wanted to come first," co-captain Losalia Moeahu-Leota, 16, said.
"Proud of the team but I know we could have pushed through."
Moeahu said he was happy with the student's work on the day.
"For the team it's a fantastic achievement," he said.
"To be honest a lot of these kids come from struggling backgrounds and it's really pleasing to see them set goals, have aspirations and achieve them."
The members of the team agreed the win was important for them and they would be training hard in the lead up to the national competition.
"It means a lot because one of our goals was to make it to nationals and we achieved our goal, so yeah, it's pretty good," Peter John Cooper-Pakinga, 17, said.
Moeahu also praised the work of coaches Mike Taiapo, Jock Collingwood, Trask Daymond, as well as the support from parents including Patricia O'Carroll-Leota who was the "mother of the group".
While they prepared for the tournament in nine months time, most of the team would be playing rugby for the school, and they were yet to officially celebrate their win.
"Not yet, we're having a pizza party," Moeahu-Leota said.