Enriching lives through waka ama

By Petrina Wright | Posted: Friday March 8, 2024

It was a once in a lifetime experience for many of our Buddies as they tried their hand at paddling a waka recently. (March 2)

Ross Buxton of waka ama club Te Piritahi A Rua Waka Ama and his team took 22 Buddies from the Family Works’ Invercargill Buddy Programme out onto the Oreti River at Sandy Point last weekend to teach them all about waka ama.

Waka ama, or outrigger canoeing, is part of the culture of Pacific people. The sport is steeped in the history and traditions of waka sailing and voyaging throughout the Pacific, making it a vehicle for cultural identity and pride for Māori.

Invercargill Buddy Programme coordinator Jennifer Richardson said it was a successful day filled with laughter and camaraderie.

“Everyone loved it. They had never done anything like it before.

“It was also a great team building exercise as Buddies big and small had to work together to successfully get the waka onto the water and paddle it from one shore to another.”

The group also enjoyed spending time together playing in and around the Oreti River and having lunch together.

Jennifer thanked Ross and his team for giving the Buddies such a memorable experience, and Tu Manawa Active Southland for providing the funding to make the opportunity possible.

Big Buddy Laura Dowling said her Little Buddy had really enjoyed the day.

“She was hesitant at first, as she had mentioned when we arrived that she was scared of seeing sharks or fish in the water. As we got paddling, looking over my shoulder, I could see the smile on her face growing. When we arrived at our picnic spot Annabelle took like a fish to water herself, she was swimming, splashing and bobbing in the river without fear along with the other Little Buddies she had made friends with.”

Big Buddy Danielle Abey said she and her two Little Buddies had also absolutely loved it.

“We really enjoyed learning about the background and history of the waka and the river.”

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