Youngest paddler reignites Waka Ama passion for parents

updated By Regan Paranihi
Tresnae Haturini (centre close) / Source - File.

The 31st Annual Waka Ama National competition is well underway at Lake Karāpiro. 68 clubs from across the country will be competing this year in what is believed to be the biggest one yet. 

3850 paddlers from across the country will be taking to the water over the next few days. Five-year-old Tresnae Haturini is the youngest paddler to compete this year.

Waka Ama is a sport she was born into as it has been a major sport in her whānau and now it's her time to shine.

Proud father Mike Haturini says, "We've done waka's pretty much through our teenage and adult years.

“Yep, it’s time to bring the next generation through so our baby girl here she's the youngest and it's her first nationals."

Haturini can now walk in the same footsteps her parents took and experience the thrill of competing at her very first waka ama national competition.

"It’s amazing to see all the young kids coming through and the sport growing.

“Hopefully in time it becomes an Olympic sport and hopefully be recognised as an Olympic sport and then it'll go beyond everyone's imagination.

“It will be good for the sport," Mike Haturini says.

Waka Ama is a sport that has taken her parents around the world and through their daughter, their light has been lit again.

"We owe the sport a lot. It's given us a lot, it’s taken us around the world and yeah we are in love with the sport and we've found our fire for the sport again."

More than 50% of the participation rate at this year's competition are under 16 and Waka Ama CEO Lara Collins says the sport has a promising future.

"Having this many youths today we've got J16, intermediates and taitamariki over 2000 of them which is amazing.

“Obviously it's a sport that attracts kids as well as adults but predominantly with the membership being half youth it brings a real vibe and vitality to the sport," Collins explains.

Haturini and her team will be celebrating their third-place win in the taitamawahine 250m cup final.

"It means ice creams on the coach. Ice cream and slushies for the kids," Mike Haturini concludes.

Tomorrow the races will continue with the J16's.