Waka Natives Take to the National Stage

Last week, Cambridge’s Lake Karapiro played host to the ActivePost National Waka Ama Sprint Championships with the first paddle to hit the water Monday 12 January. This year’s event was the 26th championship held, with registrations said to have broken last year’s record number.

Last week, Cambridge’s Lake Karapiro played host to the ActivePost National Waka Ama Sprint Championships with the first paddle to hit the water Monday 12 January. This year’s event was the 26th championship held, with registrations said to have broken last year’s record number.

Coca-Cola Amatil NZ colleagues, Lawrence Vaevae, Chris Fifita, Sam Walters and Robert Teleiai, represented the Tamaki Outrigger Canoe Club as the Waka Natives for the first time at a national event.

Just last month, the CCANZ contingent paddled in less-than-perfect weather conditions during a 12 hour paddle-a-thon in a bid to raise money that would help get them to Cambridge. After 11 hours of paddling the Panmure Basin in Auckland (the last hour was called off due to weather), the crew had clocked their target of 80km and raised enough funds to make the trip to nationals - with a couple of new paddles in tow.

With the Karapiro embankment packed with spectators last week, the Waka Natives weren't short on support. Spectators cheered them through three events; W6 500mOpen Men’s, W12 500m, W6 1500m. Two of the three events saw the crew compete in semi-finals, although didn't see them through to finals racing.

“We didn't take the win but we didn't lose either. In our minds we’re champions having trained for six months and knowing the hard work we put in” says Lawrence.

On making it to the national stage he adds, “The experience and the journey was our trophy, and the racing was the icing on the cake. We now know what’s required if we want to be at the top and the team can’t wait for the challenges that lay ahead”.

The Waka Natives commence training for next year’s championships this weekend.