It’s one of the fastest growing water sports in New Zealand that’s also an inextricable part of the whakapapa of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
More than 3,000 kaihoe (paddlers) have descended on Lake Karapiro for the 2016 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Waka Ama Sprint Nationals.
The sport sees kaihoe aged between 5 and 75 and from clubs as far afield as Kaitaia and Christchurch take to the water.
This year’s event also has an international flavour with teams from Australia and Papua New Guinea competing at the biggest event on the waka ama calendar
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Tumukahuroa (Executive Director Marketing) Hone Paul said it was a natural fit for the tertiary provider to become the major sponsor of Waka Ama New Zealand from 2016.
This was particularly so as Waka Ama was “well and truly part of the whakapapa (genealogy) of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa”.
“Since the first Te Whakangunguru Kaihoe Waka Ama class in 2009, Waka Ama has grown to become a popular and important course,” said Hone.
“More than 1,700 tauira (students) across the country have successfully completed a waka ama qualification with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.”
“As the programme has grown, so too has the sport in New Zealand, with Waka Ama now the fastest growing water sport in the country.”
Waka Ama New Zealand chief executive Lara Collins said each year more than 8,000 paddlers from 85 clubs turn out at events throughout the year to race waka ama.
While highly competitve on the water, it’s an inclusive sport that brings together paddlers of all ages and ethnicities.
Lara said that last year 1700 paddlers were under the age of 19 – and 700 of those were aged under 10.
She said the partnership with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was a perfect fit.
“Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Waka Ama New Zealand have a lot in common, we share similar values, we are well connected in communities throughout Aotearoa and we share a passion for Waka Ama, together we can work to achieving mutual goals and further grow and develop the sport of Waka Ama, adding value to our membership every step of the way,” she said.
The partnership was formally launched this week at the Waka Ama Sprint Nationals.
“What better way to start off an exciting partnership than with our biggest event on the calendar taking place.“ says Lara.
Hone said while Te Wānanga o Aotearoa had played an important role in the Waka Ama community for many years, this new partnership allowed the organisation to contribute strategically to the development of Waka Ama and raise its profile to become a major sport in Aotearoa.
“Perhaps one day Waka Ama will be just as big as netball or rugby union.”
About Waka Ama NZ
Established in 1987, Nga Kaihoe O Aotearoa (Waka Ama New Zealand) is the national governing body for Waka Ama/Outrigger/Va’a in New Zealand. Waka Ama’s vision is to lead the development, practice and promotion of the sport and culture of Waka Ama so that by 2035, future generations will have a sport where: “Waka Ama is a heavyweight in the Aotearoa/New Zealand sporting psyche and is recognised as a global leader and significant influencer in the sport, nationally and internationally.”
For further information about Waka Ama NZ visit www.wakaama.co.nz - For more information about our Free Fees Certificate in Waka Ama click here