Taranaki rides crest of wave
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.
Team Hapai from L to R Katrina WilliamsRukuwai, Nikyla Fraser, Marlene Tuuta, Nathan Tuuta, Dan Fraser and Gavin Aspeling.