Kaiarahi Toa are the embodiment of their team name meaning "champions" and the Open Women’s Waka Ama team from Horouta want to keep it that way, by training hard.
One of the paddlers, Vesna Radonich says, “We're all busy women, busy mums with busy lives, but the one thing we have in common is we want that success. We’ve been together nearly seven years and we know we have what it takes.”
Florrie Brooking, another member of the team that is taking a rest this nationals, says, “When you’re at the top, the target is always on your back and it's harder to stay up there, it’s a lot easier when you come in as the underdog, and you're the person working hard in the background, so when you’re up there we make no qualms about it, people say you’re so lucky, luck has nothing to do with it, we put in the hard yards.”
The side has won the highly-anticipated W6 500m Open Women’s title at the nationals the last two consecutive years, and are a side that is all based in Gisborne.
“One of the things about Kaiarahi Toa is that we try to build our team locally,” says Brooking. “I think that’s one of the things that we're really proud of. All our women here are all Gisborne-based and that, for us, is a huge achievement.”
Their focus next week will be to win gold, but the team has their sights set on the World Sprint Championships in Tahiti in July.
“I want the gold for Kaiarahi Toa, we got the gold for Elite but I really want the gold for Kaiarahi Toa,” says former World Champion Radonich.
The team’s first race will be next Thursday in Karāpiro.