The island’s Waka Ama Club is getting ready to compete in a national event next month. There is currently a race underway between the known date of the long distance event in Napier on Saturday 14 October and the unknown date when the club will take delivery of four new Tahitian-made waka.
The keenly awaited mini-fleet includes a six-seater matahina canoe that club spokesperson Alex Dick says will be the only one in New Zealand.
“They’re not yet in a container, or on a boat” from Tahiti, says Alex. If not delivered in time, the men’s team of six will compete using a waka borrowed from Piritahi Marae.
“A mixed team and a men’s team are confirmed, and we hope to have a high school team competing,” says Alex. The adult six-member teams will race over a 28 kilometre course that, from a start inside Napier harbour, will round a marker point along the open coast and then return. The secondary schools teams will race over a shorter course of about 10 kilometres.
Most of the cost of the new matahina came from a grant from Foundation North. A Waiheke Local Board Grant covered the rest of it and has also paid for a three seater and two single-seater trainer craft. One of the single-seaters, a tama class, will be used by junior club members.
A grant from the New Hope shop has paid for paddles and life jackets for the juniors.
When the new craft arrive, a blessing ceremony at the marae is planned and representatives of the funders will be invited to the celebration. • Rob Brennan