Waka ama gaining in popularity

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Outrigger canoeing, also known in New Zealand as “waka ama,” is a rapidly-growing sport in Nelson, and the local Maitahi Outrigger Canoe Club offers a range of options for beginners, right through to seasoned canoeists.

Club president Peter Bywater, who has been involved with the club for eight years, says that outrigger canoeing is a very social, accessible sport that is great for fitness.

The club, which was formed in 2001, has around 120 members, and has doubled its membership in the past five years. “We’ve grown quite significantly,” says Peter. “We cater for a large range of ages, so there are ten year olds up to 70 year olds getting involved.”

The club participates in a winter series every year, where clubs throughout the Nelson Marlborough region take turns at hosting a race every month over the winter. The clubs involved are Maitahi, Waikawa, Golden Bay, Motueka, and Whakatu Marae.

At the end of the series, the points are tallied up and the winner takes the trophy. So far this winter, they have had three races, with the last one to be held in Kaiteriteri at the end of August. “It’s a great way to keep everyone active over the winter months,” says Peter.

The summer months are also busy for the club, with lots of races throughout the region, a big regatta in Kaiteriteri, and a fun day at the beach. The club also holds their own race at Nelson Lakes every February.

If people want to find out more, or give outrigger canoeing a go, the club holds a club day every Sunday where people can just show up and try it out. For more information about the club and events, visit www.maitahi-outrigging.org.nz.