May 09, 2016
NZ vs Tahiti in waka ama showdown
Aotearoa and Tahiti are going head to head today for the medals in the elite section of the Va'a World Elite Sprint Championships in Queensland.
James Papali’i from the Manukau waka ama club says the two countries dominated competition on at Lake Kawana on the Sunshine Coast over the weekend.
Heats were set up so the teams won’t meet until the finals, where the New Zealanders will get a chance to claw back the slight time advantage enjoyed by the Tahitians.
He says expatriate New Zealanders are driving the growth of the sport across the Tasman, with many waka ama crews attaching themselves to their local rowing clubs.
"Australia is the second biggest contingent here with 480 paddlers next to Aotearoa with 520. It's on tv here, they've done a lot of promtion work, people are coming down to watch, waka ama in Australia is just going to continue to grow," Mr Papali’i says.
The competition are seen as a prelude for the sport’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, although the winners of the Paralympics section will get to compete at Rio this year.
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