Thursday, 09 July 2020


Tuia 250 Flotilla to be met by waka ama paddlers

Members of the Whitianga Community Waka Ama Club are preparing to play a key role in the centrepiece of the Mercury Bay area’s Tuia Encounters 250 commemoration programme.

Paddlers from the club will be joined by their counterparts from Hauraki Waka Ama (Waihi) and Te Aputa Tira Hoe (Te Puru) in escorting the Tuia 250 Voyage Flotilla of six vessels, including a replica of HMB Endeavour, into the Bay for “The Pōwhiri” on Friday, 18 October.

Six waka, with six paddlers in each, will head out from Brophy’s Beach mid-morning towards Centre Island where they will meet the flotilla and accompany them towards Wharekaho where The Pōwhiri will be held.

The paddlers will peel off back to Brophy’s Beach, leaving the vessels to land at the north end of the beach at Wharekaho, as the Europeans did in 1769. The crews and manuhiri (visitors) will be guided by Ngāti Hei along the foreshore and towards the southern end of Wharekaho where the official welcome will take place.

“Our club is really excited and honoured to support this significant event in our region’s kaupapa. To be able to be out on the water and see the vessels up close when they arrive will be amazing,” said Leanne Petersen, Whitianga Waka Ama Club vice-president.

As well as playing a role in the official proceedings on 18 October, the club members will be back on the water on Saturday, 19 October, staging some demonstration races. “Although we’re calling it a demonstration, I have no doubt it will get competitive at some stage. Sometimes you just can’t help it, you see one waka nudge ahead and you’re compelled to try and catch up. Hopefully it will provide some entertainment for people and give them an opportunity to get a taste for what waka ama is all about, if they haven’t seen it before,” said Leanne.

The Whitianga Community Waka Ama Club has been running for around five years and has 15 members. While the skill level and the number of events they take part in has increased over time, the group would love to attract some new members. Leanne says the sport is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.

“People can come along and join us for three taster sessions. They can get out in the waka, see what it feels like and decide whether or not it’s for them. They don’t need to be competitive, if they just want to get involved for fun, that’s absolutely fine,” Leanne said.

Members who join in the next few weeks may still have an opportunity to be involved in the Tuia Encounters 250 event if they wish. The club members are also currently training for the Cathedral Cove Challenge, a 25km race that the club will host in November. The paddlers meet every Sunday morning, but will increase their number of training sessions in the coming weeks. Leanne said junior members are also encouraged to get involved. “We currently have two 11-year-olds in the club. They don’t train over winter, but if there are any other young people out there looking for a new sport, we would love to have them.”

Pictured: Members of the Whitianga Community Waka Ama Club were recently joined by some crew members of Te Aputa Tira Hoe Waka Ama in Te Puru for a training paddle. On the left from front to back - Karen Barton, Leanne Petersen, Carrie Taipari-Thorne and Kevin Emery. On the right from front to back - Lisl Wollheim-Jones, Peter Searle, Hikoi Taipari, Denis O’Brien and Mike Bennett.


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