2019 Waka Ama Nationals to be bigger than ever

By Regan Paranihi

Over 1700 waka ama teams from 61 clubs around New Zealand will take to the water to compete in the 30th annual Te Wānanga o Aotearoa National Waka Ama Sprint Championships at Lake Karapiro next week.

3,577 paddlers are scheduled to compete for national honours in the Midget (under 10), Intermediate (11-13), Junior U16, Junior U19, Open, Master (40) Senior Master (50) Golden Master (60) and Masters 70 age divisions.

Waka Ama is one of the fastest growing water sports in New Zealand and Waka Ama New Zealand CEO, Lara Collins says this year will be filled with excitement.

"Waka Ama is a sport like no other, with its inclusive nature bringing together paddlers of all ages and ethnicities.”

“We’ve got crews coming from all over the country from as far north as Kaitaia down to Queenstown in the South Island. There are going to be huge crowd’s lakeside watching the regatta. With around 10,000 expected during the week,” says Collins.

Waka Ama also allows families to paddle and compete together no matter how old or young they may be. 

“It’s a sport for all sorts of people from all walks of life. Our youngest paddler competing this week is 5 and our oldest paddler will turn 82 this year. Waka Ama may be the only sport where grandmothers, grandfathers, mums, dads and their kids can come together to race competitively,” says Collins.

The competition kicks off on Monday 14 January through to Saturday 19 January.