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National event a massive boost for Whitianga and Coromandel Peninsula

By Leanne Petersen

Waka ama takes over Mercury Bay in April. Whitianga Waka Ama has been awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 Long Distance Nationals in April. Racing will take place inside the bay over two days Friday 21 to Sunday 23 April. We are expecting up to 1500 athletes plus their whānau, coaches and entourage to visit our piece of paradise. Paddlers will be coming from all over the country and from other nations to compete in races that range from 8km to 24 km in distance.

The event is the only opportunity for New Zealand paddlers to qualify for the World Long Distance Championships to be held in Samoa later in the year. This means we will see the best of the best from Aotearoa here in the Bay.

Waka ama is one of the fastest growing sports in New Zealand. This could be because it is suitable for almost anyone. It is the sport of racing outrigger canoes and you can race as an individual, in a double, triple or as part of a six person team. The event will not only bring so many extra visitors to the peninsula at this time, it will also expose our incredible location to a diverse audience across the country and the world.

Whitianga Waka Ama (WWA) are a small passionate group of paddlers who are keen to grow the profile and participation in the sport on the Coromandel. They have been working towards this opportunity since the formation of the club six years ago. WWA will be co-hosting with three other clubs from around the Coromandel: Hauraki Waka Ama - Waihi Beach, Te Aputa Tira Hoe - Thames Coast and Te Whanau Waka Ama O Whangamata - Whangamata. Racing will be held off the coast in front of Buffalo Beach and race headquarters will be based at Buffalo Beach reserve over the days of racing. Vendors will be able to operate from the reserve and national media coverage and social media coverage will also be present.

Sponsors The club are looking for sponsors both local and national to come onboard to support the event and gain exposure to a large audience that are associated with one of the fastest growing sports in the country and be associated with some of the very best athletes and world champions.

Volunteers Event organisers are also looking for the support of volunteers, vendors and safety boats to help make this one of the biggest sporting events ever to be held in Whitianga. If you think you would like to be a part of what will be an awesome event, either as a sponsor, a volunteer, a vendor or you feel you can contribute and support in another way please contact

Whitianga Waka Ama is always looking for new paddlers and anyone is welcome to come and give it a go. Please reach out through our FB page and we hope to see you all out there participating in and enjoying this national sporting carnival and help recreate the summer that wasn’t out of our collective minds.

Leanne’s email:

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