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Celebrating 25 years of Waka Ama (Outrigger Canoe) Championships in New Zealand

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This year is going to be a memorable year in New Zealand. In fact, the year 2014 might just be remembered as the year of “Championships:’ the “Waka Ama Championships.” Perhaps “The Year of Competition” of unprecedented competition might be more appropriate because without the competition there would be no championships.

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However, one thing is certain. The people of New Zealand are “Celebrating 25 years of Waka Ama Sprint Nationals.” Between March 2014 and Feb. 2015, there are 18 scheduled competitive events.

These include the 25th Annual ActivePost National Sprint Championship 2014, 2014 ActivePost Waka Ama Long Distance Nationals, 2014 ActivePost National Secondary School Waka Ama Championships, RIO World Sprints 2014 and International Race Information.

Several events like the Mana Super 6 Ocean Challenge and the Omokoroa Dash are (Subject to Sanctioning Approval)

One remarkable aspect of these numerous competitive events is the number of students involved, according to Lara Collins, Chief Executive of Waka Ama New Zealand.

“We’ve made huge strides these past thirteen years to take Waka Ama into as many schools as possible. Each year we get more schools taking the sport up and, for the very first time since the Christchurch Earthquake, we’ll have schools from the South Island competing at these championships.”

A great many New Zealanders are enthusiastic about their support of the Waka Ama Championships. One of the most outspoken groups is the Waka Ama NZ.

“Established in 1987, Nga Kaihoe O Aotearoa (Waka Ama New Zealand) is the national governing body for Waka Ama in New Zealand.

“Waka Ama’s vision is to lead the development, practice and promotion of the sport and culture of Waka Ama so that by 2035, future generations will have a sport where: Waka Ama is a heavyweight in the Aotearoa/New Zealand sporting psyche and is recognized as a global leader and significant influencer in the sport, nationally and internationally.”

The canoe or Waka is essential to heritage and culture of the people of New Zealand. It is believed that their ancestors the Maori people were some of the greatest canoe builders and navigators.

“Waka is the Māori word for canoe. The ancestors of Māori were among the greatest of canoe builders, navigators and mariners. Over the course of several thousand years, long before they came to New Zealand, Māori ancestors left South-East Asia and Oceania and came to Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. “

It is believed that “Over time, an outrigger (a secondary hull fixed parallel to the canoe) was added to increase stability. Decks gave stability between the hull and the outrigger. Sails were also added for greater speed, and steering paddles controlled direction.”

It appears that this “Celebrating 25 years of Waka Ama Sprint Nationals.” Is also a way of remembering or recapturing a history that goes backs thousands of years.

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