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Waka Ama Series Inspires Hawke’s Bay Community to be Active

Werohia Waka Ama Series Inspires More of the Hawke’s Bay Community to be Active

It’s become one of Hawke’s Bay’s top participated sports for secondary school females. It’s bought whānau together to be active as one. It’s Waka Ama – outrigger canoes that are a large part of Māori culture and history which have now become a popular recreational activity and sport.

This past month, Sport Hawke’s Bay alongside Waka Ama Kahungunu finished delivering Werohia Waka Ama, a 5-week series to increase participation in the sport. With the help of Maraenui Waka Ama Club, Te Rau Oranga o Ngāti Kahungunu Waka Ama Club and Heretaunga Ararau Waka Ama Roopu, three of the clubs that are a part of Waka Ama Kahungunu - over 150 participants flocked to either Pandora Pond or Clive River to ‘have-a-go' in a waka on 5 designated Friday evenings over the later summer months.

“The purpose of this series is to provide an opportunity for people to have a go in a safe environment,” said Sport Hawke’s Bays Māori Participation in Sport Development Officer Arama Ware.

“The best part about running a series like this is seeing all the newcomers to the sport participate at every event. I’ve seen so many people improve week by week and watched all the happy faces cross the line after a win and realising their hard mahi paid off.”

Iaesha Puata was just one of the new participants to the sport at the beginning of the series. She didn’t really know too much about waka ama before she found out about the Fridaysessions but gave it a go anyway.

“My tamariki and I were a bit nervous, but as soon as we got to Pandora and saw other tamariki and their whanau participating, it got them jumping in line and in a hurry to row that waka,” said Puata.

“I was so proud of myself and especially my tamariki for getting out of our comfort zones. The more Waka Ama gatherings we went to, the more our confidence built up; which made us keen and eager to participate every Friday. That was us. We were committed!”

Ware was very pleased with the success of the series. “What we wanted from this series was to get as many people involved in waka ama and move them into the club’s from there. We’ve had such great feedback from everyone with 100% of those surveyed saying they would recommend it to others and all saying that they would likely to do it next year.”

“Over 20 people have also shown an interest in joining a club to carry on paddling at a competitive level.”

Ware knows just how beneficial these Friday sessions have been over the last couple of years and wants to keep growing it. He sees an awesome opportunity for more Māori who aren't already active to jump on board as well as anyone who hasn’t had a go at waka ama before.

“Many active surveys and individual success stories from a range of people attribute an increase in physical activity to having someone or a group of people to go with,” noted Ware. “This is where I find waka ama has a special place – it’s such a great community that has several whānau ties. In other words, it’s a great place to be held accountable if you just need a little push to get active.”

The next 5-week series will take place late February of 2019.

For more information about Sport Hawke’s Bay’s programmes, visit


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