The University of Auckland's 6th annual Great Waka Ama Race took place today on the Waitematā Harbour with the winners heading off to compete in Hawaii in September. The winners will also continue a tradition in Hawaii which was started by their Universities Māori Students Association.
Despite being in its sixth year, the race has gone through some significant changes. Director of Sport and Recreation for The University of Auckland Louis Rattray says, “For the last three years we've been running it in this format which is a race over to Rangitoto Island, a run to the top of Rangitoto Island and then a paddle back to this beach.”
The Māori Students Association (NTM) were the first to travel to Hawaii. While over there, they performed a couple of traditional Māori items which, as a result, led the organisers of the race to make it a requirement for winners including Non-Māori teams.
“An expectation for any team that wins this is they perform at the international night doing a Kapa Haka performance and a waiata, and the event over in Hawaii expects that,” says Rattray.
Although time has passed, one of the inaugural winners remembers it like it was yesterday. NTM director Janelle Dymus-Kurei was one of the members back in 2012 that travelled to Hawaii.
Dymus-Kurei says, “Back then, that was the first of this meet, so it was significant for the Māori Student Association to stand on the grounds of the indigenous people as representatives of the University of Auckland.”
The NTN team have spent most of the summer preparing for the great race which has included work done both on land and in the waters.
Haylee Koroi is a current member of the NTM team and is hoping to replicate the feats of 2012, despite the competition. "One thing amongst us that our team is set to achieve is unity. The reason is because if we are not on the same page, then we won't complete the race."
FINAL RESULTS: Engineering Faculty (1st), Law Faculty (2nd), Science Faculty (3rd)