Mission Accomplished for Secondary School Lifters

Written by Paule Poulin with contributions from Gabi Peach.

Who will be the next David Liti, or the next Emma McIntyre? Time will tell, but that much is clear. The future of weightlifting looks bright in New Zealand.

71 athletes from 35 different schools from across the country converged to Porirua Barbell Club for the National Secondary Schools Championships on 3-4 September 2022.

It is always a pleasure to see how confident the athletes look lifting a barbell and proudly representing their school and this weekend was no different. After a two-year absence due to Covid, to be able to compete all together in person gave these young athletes some extra motivation to train.

Thanks to all the coaches and parents who supported the lifters this weekend and throughout the year! Also thanking hosts Porirua Barbell Club and the team at CrossFit Porirua who were all hands on deck to support the event.

There were different goals for the athletes this weekend. Some were competing for the first time ever, or for the first time in a national event, and some were in their last year of high school and had a few School Championships under their belts. During the weekend, many Personal Bests and Gradings were achieved, and some New Zealand Youth records were broken. 

Some highlights from the weekend included:

  • Tight battles for Gold coming down to the last clean and jerks in the female 71 kg and male 61 kg classes
  • Gabriella Napper from Epsom Girls Grammar (and club Central Weightlifting Academy) increasing the Youth female 76 kg class total record by 23 kg and achieving A grade in the process
  • Litia Nacagilevu from Nelson College for Girls who set a whopping 9 records in the 81kg class; 5 U15 and 4 Youth
  • Xavier Halliday from Shirley Boys High School and Canterbury Strength Institute who achieved five NZ U15 records in the male 81kg class.

The Caltex Good Sport Award was to be awarded to a coach, manager, student or teacher who goes above and beyond, is an inspiration to their school, or sets amazing values and standards for others to aspire to. This year, the recipient of the Caltex Good Sport Award was Lee Attrill, the coach at Shirley Boys High School (and from the Canterbury Strength Institute WNZ affiliated club), who received several nominations. Shirley Boys High School had the biggest turnout of any school at the event (9 lifters), and were the top male team, with every athlete securing a medal including 6 golds. Four athletes also set New Zealand U15 records, the only males to do so at this event. Lee's support of team goes beyond just coaching the lifts, and here's what people said in their nominations;

  • Lee cares about all aspects of his athlete's lives, not just their weightlifting
  • Lee will go the extra mile to help his athletes including providing transport and finding uniforms. No one is left behind
  • Lee acts as a role model and inspires strong values in his athletes
  • Lee shows passion, enthusiasm and positivity

Congratulations Lee, a worthy recipient making a big difference down in Christchurch. 

Special mention to some of the other nominees;

Claire Nahi (coach/athlete)- Claire coaches the Avondale College programme and is a senior member of the Papatoetoe Weightlifting Club, who goes over and above to support athletes and the running of the club.

Monique Baarspul-Wilkie (coach/athlete)- Monique coaches her daughter and is a senior athlete at Hawkes Bay Weightlifting Club, who is a role model for young women, especially her daughter Miley, in showing courage and determination in sport and life.

Tia Nacagilevu (athlete)- Tia is a student at Nelson College for Girls and Nelson Weightlifting Club athlete. At 14 years old she is an inspiration to others with her dedication to weightlifting, positive attitude and engagement in supporting her community.

This year, the Girls Team Award went to Avondale College, and Boys to Shirley Boys High School.

Congratulations to the overall best lifters;


U15 Female

U15 Male

Youth Female

Youth Male


Litia Nacagilevu- 196.02

Isyss Shuster- 199.37

Olivia Selemaia- 223.89

Jake Beaumont- 286.31


Carmi Oosthuizen- 171.37

Kieran Pierre- 191.47

Gabriella Napper- 217.30

Kieran Halforty- 267.01


Kate Johnstone- 143.49

Michael Sheen- 191.43

Jaelyn Su’a- 201.92

Dan Mercer- 261.91


If you want to make sure not to miss the progress our young weightlifters make in NZ, do not blink, as progress is continuous!