Pad­dler stoked at epic jour­ney

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEWTSO

A 250km Cana­dian ca­noe odyssey was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and one Noel Woods will never for­get.

Woods re­turned home to Lower Hutt on Au­gust 12 af­ter spend­ing two weeks in North Amer­ica on a cul­tural ex­change.

He was one of two men from the Welling­ton re­gion se­lected to be part of an ex­change with the Con­fed­er­ated Tribes of Grand Ronde, in Ore­gon.

Part of that in­cluded be­ing in­volved with the an­nual Tribal Ca­noe Jour­neys event in which in­dige­nous peo­ples from the Pa­cific North­west Coast of North Amer­ica gather in ocean-go­ing ca­noes.

Tribes from Alaska, Bri­tish Columbia and Wash­ing­ton state all took part, vis­it­ing other in­dige­nous na­tions en route to this year’s host site of Camp­bell River, Bri­tish Columbia.

Toi Maori, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­motes Maori art and artists, has a long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with the tribes of Grand Ronde and par­tic­i­pants have been sent to the event for the last nine years.

Woods, a ra­dio host with Ati­awa Toa FM, is cap­tain of the Hutt Val­ley waka Te Raukura and Te Ani­waniwa, based in Wai­whetu.

He was ‘‘stoked’’ to be on this year’s trip, hav­ing missed out due to work com­mit­ments two years ago, and proud to rep­re­sent his iwi, Te Ati­awa, Taranaki Whanui and Ngati Porou, and Toi Maori.

His group struck out from Van­cou­ver and spent about six days on the wa­ter, cover­ing 250km – in­clud­ing a tir­ing 12-hour day – with a cou­ple of rest days in be­tween.

Al­though the pad­dling style was sim­i­lar, the ca­noes were dif­fer­ent to the waka he was used to – broader, with a flat bot­tom and sparse in dec­o­ra­tion.

Woods’ group were treated to ‘‘lux­ury camp­ing’’ at night with ‘‘gen­er­a­tors, show­ers and flash tents’’.

They spent time shar­ing cul­tural tra­di­tions and prac­tices with their hosts, learn­ing how to sing, dance and drum. In re­turn, they taught their hosts a haka.

‘‘It was the full red car­pet treat­ment. We [felt like] like su­per­stars over there. They were so cu­ri­ous about [Maori] cul­ture.’’

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