This year will mark 17 years since the competition's inception. This morning the pōhiri took place welcoming all kura throughout the country to Lake Tikitapu, Rotorua.
CEO of Waka Ama NZ, Lara Collin says, "This year there are 200 more rangatahi than last year, we have 123 schools."
Every year is a snowball effect with more and more spectators and paddlers coming along to the event.
Collin says, "People come, and they really enjoy the event and they go home and their friends or their whānau... want to come and experience the same thing."
The event strongly supports unity and the coming together of young people. Some key messages that have bound the competition since the beginning.
"Just so many happy young people out there together learning on the water and enjoying each others company," says Collin.
Waka Ama is a sport that welcomes all ethnicities. From Māori to French Polynesia to foreigners as well.
"We just want as many people regardless of ethnicity or age or gender to be able to come to enjoy Waka Ama," says Collin.
Their thoughts and prayers continue to go towards Christchurch.
"Our hearts go out to Ōtautahi and all around Aotearoa and the feeling that we have been feeling for the past couple of weeks.
"On Friday obviously being two weeks since the tragic incident took place. and we will most likely acknowledge that on Friday around about the same time that we have our big award ceremony," says Collin.
Tomorrow the W6 250, and 500m races will kick off.