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Nearly 80 schools have taken advantage of waka ama unit standards developed by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, which allow students to turn their passion for waka ama into NCEA credits.

The standards were registered on the NZQA framework earlier this year and enable students to achieve up to 18 NCEA credits through the two unit standards.

Waka Ama manager and Hauora kaiarahi Brendon Morgan says his phone hasn’t stopped buzzing since the standards were released.

“As well as learning a tradition that stretches back to the ancestors, they are learning waka ama techniques, water safety skills, financial literacy and project management. Now they can get some academic acknowledgement so we are really happy with that,” Brendon says.

“This is the pinnacle of achievement for us, because our business is education and these unit standards lead to higher skills that pathway into tertiary.”

Accreditation was a collaborative effort between Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, industry training organisation Skills Active Aotearoa and Waka Ama New Zealand.

But Brendon also thanks one particular school for their help with the kaupapa.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of Ruapehu College. Their students and staff worked closely with us to see this become a reality and they will be the first students to achieve these waka ama credits.”

He says when schools were consulted back in 2016, they agreed upon an approach that blended tikanga with sports achievement.

“Waka ama is unique in that respect – Aotearoa and the Pacific is the home of waka ama and our young people aren’t just competing, they’re exercising our heritage.”

He says there are now plans to create a Level 3 provision by 2020.

Waka Ama New Zealand chief executive Lara Collins says building a pathway for learning through waka ama has been a focus for her organisation for some time and it’s great to see so many secondary schools and students throughout the country enjoying the sport. 

“It is very positive and we look forward to more schools taking part.”

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