Rescued Waka Ama crew thankful for help

The Coast Guard were called to help after a waka capsized in the Manukau Harbour.
CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

The Coast Guard were called to help after a waka capsized in the Manukau Harbour.

Waka Ama crew from Manurewa, Te Pou Herenga had to be rescued when their waka was swamped on Wednesday late evening.

While returning from a 10km paddle, only two of the three waka reached the shore. Each vessel had six paddlers.

Waru Clark was on the vessel that was swamped and forced him and his mates off it.

"It's not unusual. It happens," he says.

"We did the drill - get out of the vessel, flip it over, bail out the water. Conditions were such that bailing was difficult."

"At no time did we feel we were at serious risk of any danger. We are an experienced crew."

Clark has nearly 30 years of boating experience.

When the two other vessels reached shore and found the third one missing, they rang the Coast Guard for help. A local fisherman in the area at the time volunteered to locate the vessel occupied by Clark.

The crew do not have traditional life jackets instead they use personal floatation devices (PFDs).

"We wear specific PFDs, and some are specific to the paddlers," he says.

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He adds that when they did come out of the water, they had transferred their PFDs to the crew that came to rescue them.

It took about an hour from the time of discovery to being safely dropped off at Auckland Airport. By 8.30pm all crew and waka were on land.

"We were very calm. We've been in situations where the vessel flips [before]."

While he's confident they would've been able to return to shore without any help, he is thankful for all the assistance they received last night.

The Police Maritime Unit, an Eagle Helicopter, and an Auckland Airport Hovercraft were all used in the rescue.

 - Stuff

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