Waka ama training hits high gear ahead of national competition

Taranaki Outrigger Canoe Club president Nathan Tuuta watches the water at New Plymouth's Ngamotu Beach.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Taranaki Outrigger Canoe Club president Nathan Tuuta watches the water at New Plymouth's Ngamotu Beach.

Training has kicked into high gear for a waka ama club who are set to represent Taranaki at a national competition.

The Taranaki Outrigger Canoe Club are sending seven teams to the Waka Ama Sprint Nationals, which begin on January 16.  The six-day-long competition will be held at Lake Karapiro in Cambridge.

From its base near the New Plymouth Yacht Club on Ngamotu Beach, paddlers have been out on the water for hours, honing their craft in preparation.

The under 16-year-old girls team head out onto the water for a training paddle.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

The under 16-year-old girls team head out onto the water for a training paddle.

President and founding member Nathan Tuuta said it was an exciting time for the club, which had seen a growth in membership over the last two years.

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When it first began, it had the bare minimum of 15 members but now the club had more than 50 people signed up. 

Teams are training up to three hours a day at Ngamotu beach to prepare for the national competition.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Teams are training up to three hours a day at Ngamotu beach to prepare for the national competition.

Tuuta said while the membership was quite diverse, with people hailing from places like England, Canada and South Africa, Maori cultural tradition still played a key role in how the club operated.

"It's a real family oriented sport," he said.

Tuuta said one of the things he liked about waka ama was its inclusivity.  Men and women could race together and there was a place for people of all ages, from midgets (those aged 6-10 years) to masters.

The Taranaki Outrigger Canoe Club now has more than 50 members.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

The Taranaki Outrigger Canoe Club now has more than 50 members.

"I've done races where I've paddled against 76-year-olds," Tuuta said.

The club regularly host an open day at its Ngamotu Beach base, with the next one planned for this Saturday from 12-2pm.  

The event gave members of the public a chance to get out on the water and have a go at waka ama.

Training has gone into over drive for the club, who head to the national sprints competition on January 16.
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Training has gone into over drive for the club, who head to the national sprints competition on January 16.

"Those are progressively getting bigger as well,"  Tuuta said.

Club member Marlene Tuuta said it had been great to see how far the younger paddlers had come and the confidence they had gained since they took up the sport.

She said some of them had even overcome a fear of the water to take part.

Thanks to a grant from the TSB Community Trust, the club has recently been able to buy two waka, which are due to be delivered in early February.  

 - Stuff

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