A young Gisborne girl is on her way to compete at the 2016 IVF Va’a World Sprints.
“Okay, nothing to see here, move on”, you might say.
But what makes Pounamu Wharehinga different is that at just 13 she’s going to be among the youngest competitors at the entire event.
Pounamu lacks the size of the rest of the 12-man double hull Puhimanawahine from Horouta Waka Hoe she paddles alongside in the 500-metre sprint.
But she makes up for this with “sheer stubbornness” according to her Dad, Te Mana Whakahaere member Josh Wharehinga.
“She is really determined and really stubborn,” he said.
“For her to be there is unusual because for worlds teams the kids are usually older or have been paddling for longer.”
Pounamu, who is also known as the singer “Miss Pou” and attends Te Kura Kaupapa o Horouta Wānanga, has been making waves since she first started paddling waka ama just over a year ago.
She was in a winning Horouta team last year and again medalled at this year’s national sprints held at Lake Karapiro.
“Because I had never been involved in waka ama before I didn’t realise it wasn’t common for your child to medal in their first year. I was told it usually takes a little while, but she is really determined and has a great team,” said Josh.
Josh admits his preference was for his daughter to continue another of her passions, touch.
“She loves playing touch and if I had it my way it would be touch because she is amazing at it,” he said.
“She helped her team win the semi final at Wiki Hākinakina in Matamata against Te Rau Kōkiri.”
“The game was tied and had gone into overtime where one team member had to come off every two minutes until three remained, one of the remaining players had to be a girl. Pou was the girl who had to stay on the field and right near the end one of the boys passed to her and she took off down the sideline and burned off a boy who was chasing her.”
“The kaupapa of the event was to kōrero Māori anake but for some of our supporters that went out the window and all you could hear was them yelling ‘Go!’”
The team are fundraising right now and Josh says, “it’s pretty hardout,”
“We’re doing bake sales, food stalls, catering and an awesome raffle for domestic flights, accommodation and East Coast Vibes VIP tickets for two. I’ve made the commitment that if one of my tickets wins then I’ll chuck some kina and crayfish in their room too!”