Staff from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Te Wānanga o Raukawa and Māori Television got behind our waka ama teams from across Aotearoa by getting in the water themselves in a "friendly" corporate race.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa stormed ahead with a time of 1:05.20.
Inches behind was the team from Te Wānanga o Raukawa with a time of 1:05:63.
In third place was the team from Māori Television with a time of 1:06:05.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa CEO Jim Mather, who raced as part of the team, says it was “awesome” to be out on the water.
“The only doubt we had was whether we’d actually be able to keep up with the other crews,” he says despite coming out on top.
“Although kotahitanga was the tino kaupapa of the day, it’s also good to be competitive and it’s good to see the competitive nature come out of all of the teams.”
While the majority of the teams hadn’t trained together prior to the corporate race, Mather says his team started training for the race last week with a number of sessions at Lake Hamilton and Lake Karāpiro.
During the race today all eyes were on a member of the Māori Television team Mataia Keepa whose paddle broke last year during the same race.
Keepa says he was extra prepared today and took two extra paddles on the waka, but that still didn’t bring home the gold medal for the team.
“Personally I think I won but the other 11 in my crew came third,” Mataia jokingly says.
“I think I’ve still got it. I think Tupu has to watch out. Nah it’s a good buzz,” Mataia also says light-heartedly referring to Tupuria King, the current open men’s champion.
Another Māori Television team member, Peata Melborne, has competed at the nationals six times and says the corporate race is a good opportunity to get together with workmates.
“When I race usually there’s this kind of pressure on you," she says.
“But in this one, all those expectations are off my shoulders. It’s just about having fun and doing things with all your workmates.”
She says a good way for her team to improve is by practising more.
“It’s like anything. We just have to get out on the water and do some stuff together. But we’re pretty good working as a team anyway so I think that probably helped us a lot.”
You can catch up the race here: