More opportunities for waka ama in Tauranga

More opportunities for waka ama in Tauranga

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from NZCT, the Tauranga Moana Outrigger Canoe Club (TMOCC) will be able to buy a new Mahi Mahi W6 Waka to help meet the growing demand for the sport.

The club has put a lot of effort into developing their competitive teams over the past two years, and needed additional equipment to meet demand. The NZCT grant, along with their own fundraising efforts, means that the club will take possession of a purpose-built W6 (six-person) waka and associated accessories next year.

With multiple teams at the club and only two competition-quality boats, a juggling act had to take place on a daily basis which invariably led to teams missing out. “Having a new waka will mean that our competitive teams will be able to train together more,” says Julie Sargisson, General Manager of TMOCC. “It will also enable us to have a variety of training needs met at once.”

TMOCC’s sprint teams train at the lakes because their competition is at Karapiro, whereas the distance teams and novices need the waka on the harbour. Every summer the club has had scheduling issues because there is only one W6 waka available for training in each location. “This hasn’t given teams the opportunity to train alongside each other equally. We are delighted that there will be two competition quality W6 boats available to help us get more competitive teams out at the same time,” says Julie.

The new waka will also give more opportunity for growth within the club. TMOCC has a great 'newbie' programme, but without the right equipment they haven’t been able to accommodate those starting out in the sport as they progress further. “If we have six new people starting, they need another training time in the W6 boats, preferably several times per week for each crew. Those spots fill up fast. Having another waka will mean we can accommodate more people and give them more opportunities on the water,” says Julie.

Waka ama is a sport that is accessible for a wide age spectrum, with many whānau having two generations of paddlers at the club. When asked about what she loves about the sport, Julie answers “it is about being out on the water, about the comradery and companionship amongst paddlers. Events are often whānau focused and there's a real connection between paddlers no matter where you're from.”

Julie adds that waka ama makes a significant difference to the wellbeing of those participating. “We hear a lot in the media about being mindful and living in the moment. I think paddling provides that for a lot of people. The joy of being out on the water can't help but spread into your day to day life. Paddling becomes a way of life.”