Sports Minister backs waka ama

By Taroi Black

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson attended this year's event in Karāpiro and says he would like to support Waka Ama for international purposes.

It's the first time the Labour MP has attended the National Sprint regatta as Minister with a plan to better support the thriving sport. 

"We are in constant communication with Waka Ama NZ and we are happy and proud that the government supports through Sport New Zealand through community-level work, obviously as this sport continues to grow and become more international than it will come into focus on what we can do to support that," Minister Robertson says.

Waka Ama CEO Lara Collins says the sport is in good hands.

To date, there's almost 10,000 registered paddlers in New Zealand and this year the Karapiro event sees its biggest participation rate ever.  

"The support we get has been increasing year on year and we're happy where things are at and happy to sit down with Sport New Zealand and other partners to see how we can work together to further develop the sport," she explains.

Minister Robertson says, "I'm spending time here with my colleague Meka Whaitiri and wandering around and seeing everybody enjoying it. What is an incredibly positive experience."

Earlier today, the mana whenua from Waikato hosted a whakatau for the Minister in which he believes holds vital importance for the event and its culture.