Youth kick off largest Waka Ama Sprint Nationals

An estimated 10,000 people from New Zealand and the Pacific region descended upon the shores of Lake Karapiro for the annual National Waka Ama Sprint Championships.



Thousands crowded Lake Karapiro from January 14 to watch as 643 paddlers under 10, from clubs throughout New Zealand took to the water kicking off the 30th Te Wānanga o Aotearoa National Waka Ama Sprint Championships.


This year saw a record number of paddlers sign up to compete with more than 1700 teams from 61 clubs racing for the national sprint titles in their Waka Ama, outrigger canoes.


The first Te Wānanga o Aotearoa National Waka Ama Sprint Championships were held in 1990 at Lake Karāpiro when there were 17 clubs and 43 teams.


People throughout the Waipā district - especially Cambridge - rolled out a warm welcome says organisers as banners were up on the main street, with some shops having printed welcome messages.


Tuesday, Jan 15, will see 1,983 paddlers under 16 competing in 51 races.


Waka Ama New Zealand chief executive Lara Collins says the sport's universal appeal and inclusive nature is the key behind its success.


"It's a sport that everyone can do and it's unique in the way that Mum, Dad, Grandad, Nana are all paddling along with their grandchildren at the same time. There's 700 paddlers here under the age of 10 and half of those, their parents are paddling as well.


"Its inclusive nature bringing together paddlers of all ages and ethnicities. This year we have majority female competitors in 6 of 10 age divisions."



With 3577 paddlers, this year’s nationals is the largest and most international event ever with 60 Tahitians, and 20 paddlers from Fiji, competing.


Results from day 1 and Lane draw for day 2 are available here.