Taranaki rides crest of wave

North Taranaki Midweek - - GARDENING - CHRIS­TINE WALSH

Waka ama is the fastest grow­ing wa­ter sport in the coun­try and the Taranaki Outrig­ger Ca­noe Club is rid­ing that wave.

The rel­a­tively young club, both in age and mem­ber­ship, is mak­ing a gen­tle splash on the waka ama scene.

Three TOCC teams re­cently com­peted in the Ro­to­hoe Se­ries 2017, a five-race event that took place over the win­ter sea­son.

Every Satur­day from March 11 to Au­gust 26, teams Ha­pai, Konatu, and Moana girls, de­scended on var­i­ous lakes in Ro­torua to bat­tle it out against waka ama crews from other re­gions.

As first-timers to the se­ries, at Ro­to­hoe Five, mas­ters mixed crew Ha­pai took out the tro­phy for mas­ter mixed 2017, and Konatu came in sec­ond for the se­ries. Moana J16 (16 and under) gave it their all.

Pres­i­dent and found­ing mem­ber Nathan Tu­uta said while waka ama was a so­cial sport, pad­dlers raced with a com­pet­i­tive streak.

Tu­uta is part of the Ha­pai crew whose train­ing regime en­tailed hit­ting the wa­ter for a 20-25km pad­dle on a Sun­day and two 10-15km pad­dles dur­ing the week.

The mas­ters mixed teams com­prised six men and women aged from 40 to 50 years plus, some of whom only took up the sport in Fe­bru­ary.

Club mem­ber­ship had grown ex­po­nen­tially since its in­cep­tion and is now 90 mem­bers strong. Tu­uta said the ma­jor­ity were ju­niors and not all mem­bers ac­tively pad­dled all year around. Some hang up their life jack­ets over the colder sea­son and sum­mer draws them back out.

Tu­uta said TOCC had a strong cul­ture of in­clu­siv­ity and en­cour­aged peo­ple of all ages and pad­dling abil­i­ties to get on board their waka to give it a go.

The club hosts reg­u­lar open days at its Ng­amotu Beach base, a koha scheme for peo­ple who want to trial waka ama and if they do want to take it fur­ther the koha will be de­ducted from mem­ber­ship fees, and a spe­cial whanau mem­ber­ship rate.

‘‘That’s what I like about waka ama, it’s whanau ori­en­tated,’’ Tu­uta said.

With a fu­ture that’s looks bright, Tu­uta hopes Taranaki will one day host its own ma­jor waka ama re­gatta.

SUP­PLIED

Team Ha­pai from L to R Ka­t­rina Wil­liamsRukuwai, Nikyla Fraser, Mar­lene Tu­uta, Nathan Tu­uta, Dan Fraser and Gavin Aspel­ing.

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