The Rāhui Pōkeka Waka Ama Sports Club has a total of sixteen team’s competing at this year's National competition to be held at Karapiro in Cambridge. In amongst the strong Huntly contingent are returning gold medallist intermediates.
But Te Kāea learnt it's not gold they are chasing, the crew members say they continue to paddle to learn more about their ancestral river Waikato.
There are many stories to be told from generation to generation that best describe the Waikato River and its rich history.
One of the teachers, Kiki Kihi says, “When I look at Waka Awa, I alike the water to a voice and like sound has many different rhythms. The water can be calm, rough, and choppy, there are many different forms to the current and the way it flows.”
Teaching the fundamentals of Waka Awa to children is very important says Kihi
Hinaia Kihi paddler of team Haumi says, “We learn new things all the time that help improve what we are doing to make us better.”
Although there is the element of competition, these young paddlers say there is a greater reward in learning history about the river.
“Competition and working together aside. This has a deeper meaning for me, Waka Ama has more to offer the individual. The sport will help to develop a wide view of the world,” says Kiki.
She adds it is important to also teach the paddlers about the different currents of the river.
“I hope that they will remember this experience, not just about competition but a place of greater learning they will value the skills to better themselves as a person.”
It is said that King Tawhiao used Cambridge as his wash basin. The paddles of team Haumi will use the water as a mean of baptism ahead of preparation for the competition.