17 Oct 2017

Henare aims to compete with the best

At 5.30 every weekday morning you’ll find Henare starting a two-hour training session at his local swimming pool. In fact, this motivated 16-year-old spends at least 18 hours a week in the water.

In 2017, thanks to CMC Markets, Variety was thrilled to award Variety Gold Heart Scholarships to Henare and seven other talented Kiwi kids.

The scholarships of up to $5,000 go to disadvantaged children who excel in the arts, sport or education, to develop their talent.

It was Henare’s third scholarship in succession, with each year’s award taking him closer to his dream of competing at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games.

He entered his first race at eight and he’s had many successes since. His specialty is backstroke. His three Gold Heart Scholarships are proof of his dedication and his extraordinary ability from a young age. They’ve helped cover costs his family could never have afforded on their own: pool and coaching fees, travel to competitions and equipment, including racing togs (they can cost up to $600 and often need to be replaced every racing season), swim caps, goggles, kickboards, pull buoys and fins.

Pursuing his goal has meant sacrifices. In 2015 he had to leave his home in Kaitaia, and the school he had attended all his life, to live with his uncles on Auckland’s North Shore. That was the only way he could be close to top swimming coaches and facilities. In Auckland he does all his own washing and cleaning, and gets himself to training six days a week.

He also has another ambition – to be an electrician. That’s why, when traditional schooling wasn’t quite working around his intensive training regime, he enrolled in correspondence papers to keep up his education.