Serious paintballers set to battle
Hawera will be awash with world-class warriors and their weaponry next weekend as the New Zealand Paintball Players League rolls into town.
Hawera paintballer Shane Stewart says it will be a big event.
About 170 players and their support crews will descend on the town next Friday, June 1, to check out the field before 17 teams dive into combat on the Saturday and Sunday.
It is the middle stop on a three-leg tour of the North Island, Mr Stewart says. Teams are heading here after a competition in Auckland and before another competition on the Kapiti Coast.
The five-minute speedball games are action-packed for both player and spectators.
"It's very fast, very entertaining and very good for spectators to watch, because it's not long and drawn out," says Mr Stewart.
He hopes the event will build interest in the sport in Hawera as well as Taranaki.
"You can start with the cheapest gear or hire gear and build up to whatever you want really. You can have the cheapest gear, all it takes is one paintball to take someone out.
"It's a sport, it's like any other sport, like boxing or surfing."
While still up and coming in New Zealand, paintball has a huge competitive following in the United States and Europe, he says.
"Every country has its own league, there's a paintball world champs."
Mr Stewart believes New Zealand should be sending a team to the next world champs.
The competition is taking place indoors at the Hawera A&P Showgrounds starting at 8.30am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday.
Safety netting will be up to ensure the public can enjoy the action at a safe distance.
Mr Stewart emphasises safety is important for both the players and spectator.
This event is being heavily sponsored by paintball giants Dye and Eclipse.