Wednesday 23 November 2011 | Published in Regional
The Australian Crown Beach Kings paddling crew went bush yesterday to discover what the kids of their adopted school Rakei Toa get up to.
The Kings, favourites to win todays Pacific Cup Round Raro, were treated to a coconut climbing and coconut husking session before a grand umu feast set down by the students of the school.
Before the fun and feast, visiting paddlers learned the vision of the school for boys aged 13 to 17.
Teacher Joel Pokura explained that the school was set up last year to give young men an alternative to classroom learning with life skills the focus of the school.
The location of the gathering in Arorangi under Raemaru mountain is where the Rakei Toa school grow their food crops and raise pigs and goats as part of their life skills lessons.
Even here on this tropical island these boys need to know how to survive and grow their own food, says Pokura.
With formalities out of the way the visitors were treated to a coconut tree climbing show by one of the Rakei Toa warriors Fredrick Taio.
The youngster, still with his satchel on and ear phones in, ripped up the tree much to the amazement of the group watching on.
Once up the tree Taio kicked off a bunch of sweet nu before sliding back down to ground to show the Kings how to husk a coconut.
Some of the paddlers needed more pointers than others but in general it was a great experience for both the visitors and the Rakei Toa students who revelled in the opportunity to share their skills with the star paddlers.
After working up a sweat husking nu and uto attention was turned to the two earth covered umu the Rakei Toa boys had put down at 2 oclock that morning.
Beautifully roasted pork, chicken, taro, kumara, maniota and parcels of coconut sauce soaked rukau leaves were lifted from the umu and eagerly devoured by the paddlers.
Kings team leader Chris Maynard thanked the Rakei Toa boys for the honour of joining them for the day.
We look forward to coming back here with you boys and sharing in another umu kai, says Maynard.
Maynard and crew gifted the students a huge pile of sports clothing and caps some brand new and some from renowned paddling events around the world.
The boys were certainly thrilled to receive new trendy threads and the visiting paddlers were sent on their way with full bellies and plenty of wonderful memories from their day in the bush with the kids of Rakei Toa.