Waka ama’s South Waikato expansion
The South Waikato is on course to become a major New Zealand waka ama hub.
Since 2015 to April 2017 South Waikato waka ama club Nga Hau e Wha Whanau Hoe has gone from having 12 members to 358.
While servicing several local teams from Lake Arapuni’s Jones Landing, the club also works with teams in Taumarunui, Taupo, Te Kuiti, Matamata, Hamilton and even Te Kaha near Opotiki.
The members are mainly students aged 8 to 18 and many have behavioural and addiction issues but waka ama is enabling them to enhance their wellbeing while also building team skills.
The club’s Sue Conroy said the rapid growth was exciting.
‘‘In the South Waikato region Nga Hau e Wha Whanau Hoe is the only water sport club. It is predominantly waka ama so all the schools who want to get involved in national competitions come to us and we help,’’ she said.
‘‘Waka ama has increased so much in our area, it’s now a hub. It has got big and it is only going to get bigger.’’
She said the club now has 11 six man waka, 12 single man waka, four double man waka and also two four-man waka which are used for surfing.
‘‘Te Kuiti come over in the weekends, they have two boats of their own but they use our equipment as well and we have also been helping out a club in Te Kaha which has just started out,’’ she said.
‘‘Hamilton Girls High, which has about 100 girls in its academy, also use our gear. They only had two sets of paddles and life jackets but we were lucky enough to get money as the supreme winner of the Trust Power Community Awards and a grant from King Country Energy so we spent that on life jackets which we lend out.’’
‘‘Whatever we have we just lend out because we want to make waka ama successful and we want the kids to achieve, that’s the main objective. At the end of the day it’s about getting them to feel good about themselves.’’
She said the future was looking bright for the South Waikato club.
‘‘We have just found out that waka ama is the fastest growing sport in secondary schools so we think we’ll be tapped on the shoulder by several other secondary schools that need assistance so we are preparing for that,’’ she said.
An official registration day takes place on August 18 at Sport Waikato in Tokoroa from 1pm until 6pm.