Fizzy ban at waka ama races

The Timaru Herald - - NATIONAL NEWS - Re­becca Fal­coner

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.’’

MARK TAY­LOR / STUFF

As the waka ama na­tional cham­pi­onships be­gan at Lake Kara­piro, or­gan­is­ers em­pha­sised their ban on fizzy drinks at the an­nual na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

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