May 9, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Waka Ama Sprints 2012 at Lake Karapiro

3 min read


Lake Karapiro will come alive with New Zealand Post Waka Ama Championships

The 2012 New Zealand Post National Waka Ama Sprint Championships are taking place at Lake Karapiro (Cambridge) From Tuesday 17th through to Saturday 21st January. Close to 2500 paddlers will descend upon the lake, along with an estimated 10,000 spectators throughout the five day event. Teams from 55 Clubs around the country will be taking part. The furthest clubs travelling to the event are coming from as far afield as the South Island and Kaitaia.

Races start on the 17th with Tuesday and Wednesday dedicated to Juniors aged 7-to-19. Thursdays racing is for individuals on Single person Waka Ama canoes and Friday and Saturdays races are Adults 20-to-70 plus!

The growing sport of Waka Ama sees six paddlers working together as a team over varied distances from 500m, 1500m to Marathon races of 30 75 km. The Ama or outrigger on the left-hand side balances the Waka or Canoe, helping it to speed through the water with each stroke of the paddlers.

This very competitive sport also provides a unique link with the past. Outrigger Canoes (Waka Ama) have been used by every Polynesian culture for thousands of years as a means of transport and a way of life and although the building materials have now days changed the technique for paddling remains the same.

The weeks race distances are sprints with the shortest distance being 250m and the longest 1500m. There are straight races and races where the crews have to do up to five hairpin turns, adding excitement for spectators watching!

For the first time on Saturday 21st January we will be holding the New Zealand Post Corporate Waka Ama Challenge Final. It will see the top New Zealand Post corporate teams from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch come to race against each other for the right to be the best New Zealand Post Waka Ama team!

“This is a fantastic way to promote our relationship with our new sponsor – New Zealand Post. It adds value to our event and gives New Zealand Post employees a chance to experience the sport for themselves” says Lara Collins of Waka Ama New Zealand

As well as the corporate race the event will be promoting an important water safety message throughout the week and running swimming instruction for youth while the Waka Ama racing is taking place.

With alarming drowning statistics in New Zealand, this event offers the opportunity for waka ama paddlers to learn more about taking better care of themselves and their mates in the oceans, rivers and waterways of Aotearoa.

Water Safety New Zealand will lead the education component of the event, Chief Executive Matt Claridge Both Maori and Pacific Island groups are over represented in our nations drowning statistics and the Waka Ama nationals present the ideal opportunity to deliver vital water safety messages and education to participants and their support networks. Our team will be on site for the duration, working with our partners, to promote safety as the first priority for any aquatic based activity.

It is an exciting week and one where the whole whanau can be competing…kids, mums, dads and grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins! There are novice teams and teams of elite world champion paddlers! Come along and check it out!

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