Search for 'paddle of shame' owner

21:45, Jan 29 2014
Paddle of shame
MYSTERY: The 'paddle of shame' was uncovered while John Henzell readied his Lyttelton home for sale.

A search is on for a benevolent kayaker, but so far the only lead has wound up in a dead end.

John Henzell, a Kiwi reporter based in Abu Dhabi, uncovered the paddle while preparing his Lyttelton home for sale.

In a Trade Me auction, he described how he found himself "up the Waimak without a paddle" in 1998.

"This isn't just any day on the Waimakariri River. It's the Speights Coast to Coast and I've just tipped out of my kayak and my paddle has headed downstream with a lot more assurance, skill and speed than I'd shown until that point," writes Henzell.

Henzell was left standing on the river bank gloomily watching other kayakers pass when 'Cynthia' stopped to ask if he was OK.

And in true Kiwi multisport fashion, it turned out Cynthia had a spare paddle which she tossed to Henzell so he could continue on his way. But while Henzell promised to meet Cynthia at the end of the kayak leg to return the loaner, he never spotted her again.


So now, 16 years later, he is looking for the owner of the paddle. But it is not Cynthia.

Responding to the auction, Cynthia confirmed she was the long-lost kayaker, but the paddle was not hers either.

Earlier on race day, Cynthia had also capsized and thought she had lost her paddle. A male competitor lent her the split paddle in question before she realised her own paddle was within reach.

And so, further down the river when Henzell was in need she handed over the loaned equipment.

So Henzell's search for 'Mystery Paddler X' continues.

Henzell said the paddle is a Flite brand, breaks into two and has a wing blade.

Do you know who Mystery Paddler X could be? Email us at

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