The Taupo Waka Ama Club partnered with Tuwharetoa Maori trust Board recently to host a Waka Ama event on Lake Taupo called ‘Te Hokinga mai ki te Wai’ or, Return to the water, a Taupo Waka Festival.
Waka ama is a growing sport in New Zealand with athletes paddling outrigger canoes, a different craft to paddle in comparison to your standard kayak.
The event was the vision of organisers Tredegar Hall and JB Ioaba.
“A waka with an outrigger like we paddle is different to a standard kayak in that they are a lot slower,” says JB.
“They do have their challenges. Their buoyancy is different in Lake Taupo due to the fresh water for example. Just like wearing a wetsuit it affects your ability in open water, the same applies to our craft sitting higher in the dense salt water. A lot of our events are in the ocean too, so the dynamic is different.”
Tredegar was excited about the community aspect of such an event.
“This was a great opportunity to raise money for the club and connect our community back to the water.”
Teams gathering together with up to five workmates, friends or whanau getting a full head of steam (paddle steam of course!) out on Lake Taupo and giving their all in a fun-filled day.
Supporters took the opportunity to spend some time lakeside cheering on friends and whanau alike, bringing and sharing food together and setting up tents to get out of the sun.
The Taupo Waka Ama crew provided a steerer too, to keep all of the effort on track and in a straight line.
A few other hardy individuals entered the 6.7-kilometre course for small boats which included everything from stand-up paddle boards, kayaks surf skis and other waka.
Three races across the day included, small boats which had everything from stand-up paddle boards to conventional kayaks and everything in-between, High School teams racing and the main event, featuring all of the adult teams.
These all adult crews entered in the main event will have a minimum of two races and the day concluded with drinks and prize giving held in the Taupo Yacht Club. Tredegar was happy with the concept, particularly with the family feel to the day.
“We knew there weren’t any events like this that anyone in the community could get involved in, it’s not just about racing but also connecting with the water and the local environment particularly after the lake spill in July.”