Loving her first year of Bachelor of Recreation and Sport studies, waka ama paddler Olivia Mador-Puna feels lucky to have been awarded an EIT Elite Sportsperson Scholarship.
From Gisborne and a former boarder at Sacred Heart College in Napier, Olivia is one of six current EIT students to have received the prestigious scholarship, which is jointly supported by EIT and Sport Hawke’s Bay. Olivia is also the recipient of a Year 13 Study Grant.
“It’s amazing,” the 18-year-old enthuses. “I probably couldn’t have come to EIT without them.”
Olivia first tried her hand at paddling outrigger canoes when she was at Gisborne Intermediate School and she and other students were offered the opportunity to try different sports.
Slow to choose, she and a friend found paddling outrigger canoes was the last option left to them. They decided to give it a try, and the friend was then invited to turn up at the local Horouta Waka Hoe Club.
Olivia, miffed about being overlooked, tagged along and she was the one to stay the course while her friend dropped out after a couple of training sessions. Once she’d notched up a few wins, Olivia was hooked.
It’s a demanding sport, she says, and there were times when she felt like giving it away, particularly when she was pushed by her coach for the last six years, Kiwi Campbell.
Now the 18-year-old appreciates that effort was needed to make her a more confident competitor.
Kiwi shares a link with EIT. For eight years, she has worked on the Tairawhiti campus, where she coordinates the Star and Gateway programmes and is responsible for student recruitment and liaising with high schools.
“Waka ama is just as intensive as other sports,” says the award-winning coach. “It’s quite full on. The training regime is twice a day, six days a week, so it’s a huge commitment.”
Other current EIT Elite Sportsperson Scholarship winners are:-
Brennan Alexander-Parker of Taradale, a hockey player who is in his second year of Bachelor of Recreation and Sport studies; Kate Chadwick of Napier, a golfer and second-year Bachelor of Nursing student; waterskier Jaaron Fritz of Napier, a second-year Bachelor of Recreation and Sport student; Jaimie McIvor, a golfer who is into the second year of a Bachelor of Business Studies; and cyclist Ashleigh Neave of Napier, also a second-year Bachelor of Recreation and Sport student.