Waka ama’s South Waikato ex­pan­sion

South Waikato News - - Out & About - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

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