Cullinane named Kura Wars pickleball champions

Cullinane and Whanganui City College pickleball players shake hands over the net after their match at Kura Wars 2024.

Thirty students from three local secondary schools came together last week to dink and rally for the title of Kura Wars Pickleball champion.

The annual Kura Wars challenge, formed out of a collaboration between Ngā Tai o Te Awa and Sport Whanganui, aims to activate students from smaller schools and kura who might be less competitive in traditional sporting competitions. Each year students try a different sport, with students previously competing at indoor rowing and waka tug-of-war.

This year Sport Whanganui partnered with members of the Rivercity Pickleball club to organise a pickleball tournament held at Springvale Stadium.

Pickleball is a racquet sport played by two (singles) or four people (doubles) on a badminton-sized court. The relatively new sport combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong with players using paddles and a plastic ball with holes to score points.

The competition on the courts was fierce with teams from Whanganui Girls’ College, Cullinane College and Whanganui City College facing off in six rounds of 15-minute doubles games, with Cullinane College eventually taking the win from the City College pairing in a close fought battle.

Quinn Hemingway, Rangatahi Activator at Sport Whanganui says the Kura Wars events are about providing opportunities for rangatahi to experience activities they may not have tried before.

“In previous years, we have partnered with Ngā Tai o Te Awa to run erg relays and waka tug of war, which have been highlights for our young people.”

“We have recently been working with the Rivercity Pickleball Association to bring exposure of this fast-growing sport to rangatahi. From this we decided to run a pickleball tournament for students to put what they have been learning into action.”

Sport Whanganui and Ngā Tai o Te Awa staff were given a crash course in scoring by Rivercity Pickleball club committee members Hamish Randle and Daniel Heymann, who were on hand to oversee the competition and help with any tricky decisions.

“Pickleball is easy to teach and learn and anyone with a bit of hand eye coordination can start playing in under an hour,” says Hamish.

“We have 6-year-olds through to 84-year-olds at the club playing indoors year-round, so there are no seasons, and we don’t get rained out. For the competitive people there is a thriving competitive scene in NZ with some of the top players competing in the Australian professional league.”

The Rivercity Pickleball Club runs free youth sessions from 4:30pm – 6:00pm on Thursdays at Jubilee Stadium. Anyone interested in coming along and trying the sport can get in touch via email at

Cullinane and Whanganui City College pickleball players shake hands over the net after their match at Kura Wars 2024.
Article posted 20 June 2024 by sportwhanganui