Lack of training Waka in Tahiti forces teams to dig deep

By Rahia Timutimu

The moon was still out when Ahumai made their way to their practice.

“It is a little struggle to get up,” says paddler Frances Banks from Te Rarawa. “But we know we have a goal that we’ve been working for, for so long. And to be in Tahiti and be able to get on the water, at that time is amazing. We've got block bookings for the canoes so we have to get here at that time, and it is definitely worth it.

That's right, teams have been waking up before the roosters to get their chance on the water, with a low number of Waka available for training purposes there's a first in first served basis

“We try and get here around 5am because the next lot is at 6am so we have to get up early to get on the water, we’ve had a couple of 4ams wake up calls so it’s worth it, and we know if we’ve had our training in the morning we can relax in the afternoon,” admits Banks.

This team is from Australia, five of the six paddlers in this 6-man team are Māori but moved over the Tasman to pursue work, but their love for the sport has reunited the NZ paddlers back together.

“For me its huge,’ says Banks “shifting to Australia was hard for me because I went over in a later age. We found waka ama and I met up with my friends that I’ve known since ages ago, hooked up with them, got into a team and it’s a real big part of my life again, and its just been amazing,”

They're not the only paddlers that have been on the water this early, many NZ teams were also on the water this morning

The women will have their first race tomorrow in the V12.