College waka ama catches donation wave

Waka ama racing at Mahurangi College has had a financial shot in the arm following support from BlueSky Community Trust and Oxford Sports Trust.

The donations have enabled the team to buy 12 paddles and 20 lifejacket vests.

Team coach Gavin Jones and teacher Qing Zhang say that although the new squad was officially formed last year, it has been borrowing paddles of different sizes and 10-year-old lifejackets from the Omaha Outrigger Club, where the new team is based.

“The formation of the team and the donations are the most exciting things to have happened at the club in the last 10 years,” Jones says. “Membership has grown to 20 and we hope to host a regatta at the end of next year.”

He says the goal is to build the student team up to compete in the national secondary school waka ama regatta next November.

The club has enough gear to crew two six-man waka, which means that they can have a team of up to 12, and there are plans to obtain a single-seat race canoe.

Jones hopes the formation of the new team will build the sport in Omaha.

He is targeting Year 7 and Year 8, who might progress with the sport throughout their time at school.

“Typically, Year 13s move on after they graduate, but with younger paddlers coming through, we might even be able to get some parents involved.”

Jones says waka ama is one of the fastest growing sports in New Zealand and, unlike row boats, the canoes are built to catch ocean waves up to four-metres, making the sport a little more extreme.

Jones and Zhang thanked NZ Sailing in Silverdale and Gillespie Paddles for the discount gear, which has enabled the team to grow.