Members of the world waka ama champion club Horouta have found solace in the love of their sport. The East Coast-based club were crowned champions after picking up the most points at the recent Worlds in Tahiti.
Club president Walton Walker says, "What will you do- will you sit in the dark or will you continue on the canoe and let everyone know you're still alive, and memory of the parent is still strong within the child on the water?"
Despite members dealing with life's most turbulent challenges off the water in losing loved ones, by banding together and taking to the water they powered through.
A club coach and paddler for Horouta Waka Hoe for 15 years, world champion paddler Kiwi Campbell-Takao says, “It's something that you never want to go through but you know when adversity comes we've got to pull together."
They took out 5 golds, 5 silvers and one bronze, accumulating the most points of all clubs at the World Championship in Tāhiti. They've won 7 out of 8 club titles at the NZ nationals. The latest award marks a significant milestone for the club, now in its 20th year on the water.
Campbell-Takao says, “It's been really enhancing to other people that we've got involved and I have a skill-set and I'm really happy to share it with the wider community and help develop our paddlers to be some the best paddlers in the world.
"We're lucky, not only us of Horouta but all of the other clubs to now know there's something up for grabs behind the teams from Tāhiti," says Walker.
The club ranges from 5-year-old 'midgets' to veteran 'masters' over 60 years young, facilitating an inter-generational kinship.
Walker says, “It's about being united together on land and for that relationship to carry out to sea as one.”
Horouta Waka Hoe is looking to establish a clubhouse facility in the future.