Fizzy ban at waka ama races
Waka Ama NZ has been commended for banning fizzy drinks at its annual national competition as thousands descended on Lake Karapiro for the start of the event yesterday.
Ha¯pai Te Hauora general manager Janell Dymus-Kurei singled out the organiser of the annual event for its commitment to being fizz-free, as the Auckland health group joined the NZ Dental Association to urge the Government to introduce labelling regulations on sugary drinks.
‘‘This event is a great example of leadership in Ma¯ori health,’’ Dymus-Kurei said.
‘‘The organisers have shown a strong commitment to oranga tinana through the promotion of physical activity which is embedded in te ao Ma¯ori.’’
A New Zealand study found that last year sugary drinks sold in supermarkets were among the most unhealthy in the world, with 52 per cent of drinks purchased here containing added sugar.
That figure is lower across the ditch, with 42.2 per cent of drinks in Australia containing sugar, 42.8 per cent in Canada and only 9 per cent in Britain.
Fizzy drinks and fruit juices are the most sugar-laden, and DymusKurei said tamariki Ma¯ori suffered disproportionately from the consequences of drinking sugary drinks. ‘‘It’s often unclear to parents which drinks are healthy, and which should be treat drinks only,’’ Dymus-Kurei said.
‘‘We believe stricter labelling regulations, in tandem with efforts like those of the waka ama championship organisers and increased availability of safe, clean water, will help convince wha¯nau to choose wai Ma¯ori.’’
Te Ururoa Flavell, chief executive of waka ama sponsor and educational institution Te Wa¯nanga o Aotearoa, said such an initiative at a family event with participants as young as 10 was really important, and being fizzfree was an example Waka Ama NZ had set for six years now.
The waka ama championships were among many Ma¯ori events that are smoke-and alcohol-free, so it was logical to have a fizz-free event as having sugary drinks at sports events was a contradiction in terms, he said. ‘‘Going to fizzydrink free is a great initiative and it shows people are thinking in that space about healthy people and, indeed, trying to embed that amongst the children.’’