Flood-hit kayakers in waiting game

Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Journalism
The best secondary school kayakers from around Australasia are competing in Kawerau over the coming week. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

More than 100 teenaged kayakers are playing a waiting game in the aftermath of Eastern Bay of Plenty’s tumultuous flooding this week.

The New Zealand secondary school whitewater championships is due to begin on Monday but today’s practice day was cancelled because of high river levels on the Tarawera River in Kawerau.

The river was running as high as 85 cubic metres a second (cumecs), had dropped to 65cumecs today but organisers were hoping it would get down to normal levels of around 30cumecs by Monday.

“We’ve got eight competitors from Australia, as well as a large contingent from the South Island, who were all on their way when the flooding hit during the week and were understandably a bit apprehensive,” race director Liz Fowler explained. “Everyone’s relaxed about missing the practice day today though – we’re all very aware we’re just here for fun, while just down the road in Edgecumbe, people have lost their homes and most of their possessions.”

There’s a record field of 101 paddlers taking part, with strong showings from Auckland, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki bolstering the traditional strongholds of Bay of Plenty and Central Otago.

The secondary school titles will be followed by the New Zealand canoe slalom championships at the same venue over Easter, with officials nervously eyeing long-range forecasts of another sub-tropical depression hitting New Zealand.

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