Last November Waka Tangata o Te Awhinamai Te Toki ki Tuakau lost three of its waka to an arson attack. The incident happened as the club was gearing up for the National Sprint competition held annually at Lake Karāpiro in the Waikato region.
Club president Rosalie Ellis says despite losing three waka, paddlers were able to maintain their training schedule due to two waka loaned to the club by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and another two waka from parent club Te Toki Voyaging Trust.
“There was no break in training, they were able to continue on through so they’ve got no excuses,” says Ellis.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Chief Executive Dr Jim Mather says it was an easy decision to provide the waka to the club in its time of need.
“Waka ama provides massive benefits for paddlers and helps bring communities together so anything we can do to support that is well worthwhile,” says Mather.
He says it’s great the club were able to continue their training despite the devastating experience they went through last year.
Following the arson attack, a givealittle page raised more than $7,000 for the club and a Waikato District Council staff fundraiser boosted this by a further $1600. But with a new waka costing about $15,000, fundraising continues.
With a dozen teams from the club competing at this week’s National Sprint competition, ranging from midgets through to masters, Ellis says it’s about taking part and supporting each other rather than winning, however, she is hopeful for some good results.