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Hone Harawira, MP for Te Tai Tokerau

Hone Harawira, MP for Te Tai Tokerau

Friday 20 January 2006

“Waka Ama is the buzz sport for Maori,” said Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau, “ and the Maori Party congratulates Ngä Kaihoe o Aotearoa for running another successful National Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro this week".

“There were about 2,500 paddlers there throughout the week, and every day has been packed with spectators and whanau who came to cheer their crews on,” said Harawira, “and then on Finals Day [Saturday 21st], heaps of other people come in to watch the best of the best putting it all on the line.”

It’s just a real buzz, and I love being there. I wasn’t able to commit to any proper training this year, so I didn’t paddle at all, but I know how much everyone gets up for the challenge,” said Harawira.

“The whole event is alcohol and smoke free, and the kids ain’t shy in telling people they see smoking to leave the venue,” said Harawira. “It’s one of the best events that Maori are involved in, and I recommend the sport to anyone.

“The Championships event is all about being healthy, challenging one another and challenging yourself, whanaungatanga, telling lies about how little you’ve been training, and never believing anyone else telling you that".

“It’s a whanau thing, with the mokopuna, the kids, mum and dad, and grandad and grandma, and they’ve even got a kaumatua section for the seriously old folks.

“The first couple of days are dedicated to the kids and everybody yells and screams for their babies, and the kids just love it. Then the last couple of days are for the juniors and the adults, and believe me, it don’t get any easier as things get older.

“In fact, while watching the kaumatua paddlers flashing down the course, one of my mates said to me ‘gee I’d love to be that fit when I’m that old’ to which I replied ‘man I’d love to be that fit at my age !!!’”

“This years Nationals is a trial run for the 2006 Waka Ama IVF Va’a World Sprint Champs which will also be held at Karapiro in March, so paddling records are tumbling all over the water at the moment".

“Hosting the World Champs is a great honour for Aotearoa” said Harawira, “and I understand that up to 26 countries will be flying in to compete.”

"Maybe we should put out a challenge to the other parties in Parliament to put together a team?"

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