The younger brother of women’s elite squad paddler, Kayla, Kurtis made rapid strides in 2019 in his upwardly mobile international career.
Starting out his sporting life as a surf lifesaver with the Paekakariki Surf Club and also a competitive swimmer he later took up kayaking aged “15 or 16” with the Mana Kayak Club.
Finishing runner-up in the U16 K1 200m and K1 500m at the 2012 National Championships gave him the motivation to train harder and in 2013 he appeared for New Zealand at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and World Junior Championships, where he finished third in the B Final of the K1 1000m.
At the 2014 World Junior Championships, the powerfully-built kayaker improved to a fifth place finish in the K1 1000m A Final.
In 2016 he joined the New Zealand men’s squad, and in 2017 placed fifth the A Final of the K1 500m.
Kurtis’ best season to date came in 2019. Alongside Max Brown the pair claimed eighth in the K2 1000m A Final at the World Cup in Poznan before Kurtis moved on to compete at the 2019 World U23 Championships. Competing four times in a little under four hours, and after stepping in as a last minute replacement for an ill kayaker in the K4 500m, Kurtis grabbed an outstanding K1 500m bronze medal in Romania.
He then concluded his 2019 international season by placing joint sixth in the B Final at the K2 1000m at the World Championships.
Kurtis – alongside Max Brown – booked a Olympic K2 1000m slot at the 2020 Oceania Championships in Australia.