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Horomia welcomes World Waka Ama Champs to New Zeal

Hon Parekura Horomia
Minister of Mäori Affairs

20 January 2006 Press Release

Horomia welcomes World Waka Ama Champs to New Zealand

Māori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia is throwing his support behind the world outrigger canoe championships, to be hosted by New Zealand at Lake Karapiro in March.

The World Waka Ama Championships – officially Waka Ama IVF Va’a World Sprint Champs 2006 – will run for five full days from March 21-26.

Parekura Horomia is keen that the country "put its back to the hoe."

"Māori have long excelled in this exciting sport; canoeing is part of our tradition," he said after last night’s event launch at Lake Karapiro, the championship venue and for the national competition currently taking place.

"This sport is attracting thousands of new competitors – from 1500 paddlers two years ago to more than 2000 at this year’s national championships. This is an extraordinary growth and is a great example of Māori realising their potential through sport.

"Waka ama is a fantastic sport. I've always admired the whanaungatanga spirit this sport brings out in our people. I look forward to seeing it alive and well at this world event,” he said.

At the 2004 regatta held in Hawaii,1800 competitors paddling for 23 countries from as far afield as Italy and Brazil took part in the largest ever world sprint championships.

“I was fortunate enough to be there when six New Zealand women struck gold in the World Outrigger Canoe Sprint Championships. The Kiwi Kaihoe six won the regatta's premiere event, the 500-metre sprint, against stiff competition from heavily favoured Hawaiian and Tahitian teams. Waka ama is very popular amongst Maori. This world title has taken the profile of the sport to another level," he said.

The Minister called on all New Zealanders to seize the opportunity offered by this international competition to showcase their skills, sports prowess, culture and natural beauty to the rest of the world.

The event is expected to attract up to 5000 international competitors from 26 countries including the Pacific island nations, the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe.


ENDS

More info on New Zealand waka ama: www.wakaama.co.nz

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