Waka ama sprint na­tion­als at Kara­piro to be big­gest yet

Rotorua Daily Post - - Te Ma¯ Ori -

The 30th an­nual Waka Ama Sprint Cham­pi­onships on Lake Kara¯ piro this week have a record num­ber of pad­dlers sign­ing up to com­pete.

The first Te Wa¯nanga o Aotearoa Na­tional Waka Ama Sprint Cham­pi­onships were held in 1990 at Lake Kara¯piro when there were 17 clubs and 43 teams tak­ing part.

This year more than 1700 teams from 61 clubs will race for the na­tional sprint ti­tles in their waka ama (out­rig­ger ca­noes).

Of those 61 clubs, seven of them are from the Ro­torua and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

Rua­mata Waka Ama club teams Mako and Ngaruroa will be de­fend­ing their ti­tles in Mas­ter Women and Se­nior Mas­ter Women di­vi­sions.

More than 3000 pad­dlers from through­out the coun­try are sched­uled to line up in var­i­ous waka classes, com­pet­ing in 10 age di­vi­sions at the event from Jan­uary 14 to 19.

Waka Ama New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Lara Collins said that this year’s event prom­ises to be full of ex­cite­ment.

“In 2014 we had 2562 com­peti­tors, this year we have a record 3577 pad­dlers reg­is­tered, we’ve grown 39.6 per cent in five years.”

Collins said crews from all over the coun­try would be com­pet­ing in front of an ex­pected crowd of 10,000.

She said waka ama was a sport like no other be­cause of the in­clu­sive na­ture, that brought to­gether pad­dlers of all ages and eth­nic­i­ties.

The youngest pad­dler in the com­pe­ti­tion this year is 5 and the old­est will turn 82 this year. “Waka ama may be the only sport where grand­moth­ers, grand­fa­thers, mums, dads and their kids can come to­gether to race com­pet­i­tively.

“That’s what makes it so spe­cial and unique, it’s very com­pet­i­tive but the fo­cus is on fun and wha¯nau, too.”

A Ma¯ ori pub­lic health or­gan­i­sa­tion, Ha¯pai Te Hauora, con­grat­u­lated Waka Ama New Zealand for its com­mit­ment to Ma¯ori well­be­ing dur­ing the na­tional cham­pi­onship fes­ti­val.

This will be its sixth year as a “fiz­zfree” event, mean­ing no fizzy drinks will be sold at the tour­na­ment.

Gen­eral man­ager Janell Dy­musKurei said the event was a great ex­am­ple of lead­er­ship in Ma¯ ori health and a pos­i­tive “pro-Ma¯ori” event.

“Or­gan­is­ers have shown a strong com­mit­ment to oranga tinana through the pro­mo­tion of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity which is em­bed­ded in te ao Ma¯ori.”

She said through the adop­tion of a “fizz-free” stance the fes­ti­val high­lighted the im­por­tance of the avail­abil­ity of wa­ter, wai Ma¯ori, to all wha¯nau across the motu.

Photo / File

Pad­dlers at a sec­ondary school waka ama com­pe­ti­tion last year.

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