The 32nd Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Waka Ama Sprint Nationals had a stunning start on Sunday with a record breaking number of competitors under the age of ten paddling.
The first day of competition at Lake Karapiro began as it normally does, with taitamariki - youth age six to ten – racing.
“We had 35 races and a record breaking 750 plus taitamariki under the age of ten paddling,” says a tournament spokesperson.
The opening day of the national tournament kicked off with a Karakia Paimārire – a full traditional blessing led by Tim Kara of Ngāti Korokī Kahukura.
Coaches, clubs and kaihoe from Kaitaia to Christchurch arrived at the lakeside, bringing their passion, skills and support.
Following the blessing was a pōwhiri, where speakers highlighted how important it is to talk and share with friends.
“We need each other whānau. He waka eke noa,” says a tournament spokesperson.
“It was fantastic to see thousands of happy, smiley faces enjoying day one of racing, both on and off the water,” says Waka Ama NZ CEO Lara Collins.
We’re really fortunate that New Zealand has done such a great job managing COVID-19, which allows events like this one to take place.”
Today, Monday, the Intermediate Paddlers, aged from 11 -13 years old, kick off the day, followed by J16’s, and the Championship Finals for the taitamariki paddlers.
“We have over 2100 paddlers competing,” says Lara. “I can’t wait!”
For those travelling to the competition today, Monday January 18, the Karapiro Dam Rd is closed from 9am to 2pm due to roadworks on State Highway 1 just north of the Maungatautari Road turnoff. Waka Kotahi are encouraging people travelling to the event to allow additional time for their journey or consider an alternative route. You can find further travel information on the website at the following link: http://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/traffic.
The 2021 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Waka Ama Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro run from Sunday January 17 – Saturday January 23.