Ruamata Waka Ama Club. Source: Ruamata Waka Ama Club
Ruamata Waka Ama Club in Rotorua has been given $30,000 from the NZ Community Trust to purchase two new six-man waka.
The club has around 300 members registered, ranging from 5 to 60+ years old and all members are expected to benefit from the new waka, according to Ruamata club chair Heeni Hope.
"The new waka will mean we can get more people on the water. Our club members were very excited about the news that our application was successful."
The funding will help increase the capacity of the club to offer both social and competitive paddling.
"The numbers of active paddlers increase over the warmer months. We are constantly looking at new ways to cater for the members of our community who are looking to start paddling, while also accommodating our competitive paddlers' needs."
Photo source: Ruamata Waka Ama Club
Hope says the club frequently paddles together as whānau and their waka are used at marae and iwi events. The sport also keeps members connected to their past waka traditions and places.
"Waka ama is, for some, a sport and for others a way of life," she says.
"Not only is it important for oranga tinana but also to our oranga ngākau and oranga whānau.”
The club hosts a series of races called Te Rotohoe, which takes paddlers to Lakes Rotoma, Te Rotoiti, Tarawera and Rotorua.
Ruamata also has a proud winning tradition, with national and world champions calling the club home. Its paddlers regularly compete at international events, such as the Moloka'i Crossing in Hawai'i, Vaka Eiva in Rarotonga and the Tahiti Aito.
Hope says the club is honoured to have the support from the NZ Community Trust.
“We are encouraged that they also see the benefits of waka ama and supported our tono to fund two new waka for our club.”