Teams come from all over for Vaka Eiva experience

Thursday November 17, 2016 Written by Published in Paddling
Turangawaewae Waka Sports Wahine from New Zealand have a long record of success in paddling events. 16110953 Turangawaewae Waka Sports Wahine from New Zealand have a long record of success in paddling events. 16110953

A great line up of Cook Islands and international teams will provide plenty of exciting action during this year’s Vaka Eiva festival.

They’re coming from New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Singapore, Tonga and even Canada, with paddlers representing a huge variety of ages and levels of experience. Among them are some of the world’s best competitors. We asked the teams to tell us a little about themselves…

International

Parihaka OCC- New Zealand

Tena koutou katoa! Parihaka Waka Ama are excited to be part of Vaka Eiva 2016. This year we have a team of seniors that will participate in the Open Round Raro and Irons event. We have juniors representing Parihaka in the singles. They also have the privilege of paddling with Ngakau Toa Vaka for the w6 events. We can’t wait to paddle and party, Raro-style!

 

Ikaika OCC- Australia

The club was formed in 1995 and over the last 20 years has gone from strength to strength with an ever-increasing membership of both competitive and recreational paddlers. The club’s location, in picturesque Pittwater, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, allows access to the protected expanse of Pittwater and offshore for ocean training in the Tasman Sea. This enables amateur and experienced paddlers to find conditions to suit their skill level almost every day of the year. Pittwater has a number of committed and long term members who ensure that everyone is given a range of opportunities to paddle, to improve their fitness, stamina and technique or for a leisurely paddle. Members range in age from early 20s to late 70s. They compete in age divisions including Open, Masters, Senior Masters and Golden Masters in Men, Women and Mixed divisions.

Our Vaka Eiva team of SNR Masters are looking forward to paddling and racing in the Cook Islands. The crew has competed a number of times at Hammo on Magnetic Island and also raced in Kona, Hawaii. After the stories we have heard about this great paddling event Vaka Evia members can’t wait to experience it for themselves.

American Dragons-Singapore

The American Dragons (Singapore) is a dual paddling club, training and competing in both Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe. Founded in 2005, the American Dragons (Singapore) are now a serious presence at all Singapore based paddling events as well as overseas events in both dragon boat and outrigger canoe. Team members come from many backgrounds from students to professionals and represent 26 different nationalities that share a love for the water, fitness and socialising.

Being far from most large outrigger events the American Dragons target 1 or 2 international races a year. 2014 gave us two 2nd place finishes at both Gold Coast Cup and Hong Kong Around the Island Race. For 2015 we paddled Sydney Harbour and tackled our first big water race thanks to the Paillolo Challenge between Maui and Moloka’i, and hope to use the knowledge learned there at Vaka Eiva.

Pittwater OCC - Australia

We are a motley mixed crew of oldies from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, including a founding club member and current president! Our coach has extensive experience of winning medals worldwide. We have two steerers with vast experience from international and local competition, and the rest of the crew are there for a wonderful experience in the Cook Islands.

Pacific Dragons - Sydney, Australia

The Pacific Dragons is a Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe Club whose members can be seen paddling around the harbour and ocean waters of Sydney, Australia. Our club is 22 years young with around 80 members and our mission is to enjoy all paddling sports through dedication, competition, good sportsmanship and club spirit. Many members of the team coming to Vaka Eiva 2016 have competed at the beautiful Cook Islands previously and are looking forward to the camaraderie and hospitality of the islands. For one couple, this trip is an opportunity to introduce their son to the place where the spark of their love was ignited. We wish all crews who are competing to have a great event and we look forward to meeting everyone.

I Mua Nui - Moorea, French Polynesia

I Mua Nui was established 23 years ago in August 1993 in Haapiti in the island of Moorea. Sonia Villierme was appointed club president and she was the first woman to be president of a va’a club in French Polynesia.

Initially dedicated to women and young people, including young people in difficulty, the club has has a history of training young people to a high level. From 1995 to 2007, I Mua Nui monopolised the top 10 of major va’a races with a third placing at the 2001 Hawaiki Nui Va’a race.

As the club is focused on training young people and has done very well at it, I Mua Nui is routinely stripped of its best rowers by other clubs.

I Mua Nui is also known for organising major sporting events. The Channel Race, a kayak race between Tahiti and Moorea, was held from 1995 to 2012. The event was a victim of its own success and had to be stopped in 2012 because the large number of participants that followed the introduction of V1 made security difficult. The Coco Beach race has been created to replace it and in 2016, I Mua Nui will host its 5th event. One aim of the event is to go international.

A new team is now supporting Sonia in organising the club and its training sessions.

Mooloobah Master Women - Australia

The Mooloolaba masters crew came about when a few ladies who hadn’t been to Vaka Eiva or the Cook Islands made it known that they were keen to go. So a team was formed around them, with the addition of other paddlers who had done the race before, some of them many times. We were struggling to fill our last spot so we asked a local. Annie Fisher agreed to help us out as we had the connection when she journeyed with us to Molokai with us in 2016. As we were unable to paddle there, we are really looking forward to getting in the boat with her this time.

Bisons Snr Master Men Mooloobah – Australia

“We are good paddlers …just ask us,” is the comment from long-time Vaka Eiva Veteran Allan Rasmussen who is joined by fellow veterans Mike Olds, Chris Willmott, Gordon Grivas, Colin Mclennan and Cliff Harris. We have roped three “lost” paddlers in to the mix, one from Hawaii, and two from Australia to make up a Round Raro Relay team. Rasmussen has an added interest in coming to Vaka Eiva every year as his daughter Becs is now considered a local, being the partner of our Elite paddler Andre Tutaka-George, and they are keen to see Allan and Jenny’s beautiful granddaughter here on Rarotonga.

Outrigger Caloundra -Australia

Outrigger Caloundra will be represented by a crew who are “just happy to be here!” We are best described as social paddlers who love to compete. Our mixed crew ranges from paddlers with over 10 years’ experience to those in just their second year. We competed in the 2015 Hamilton Island Clash of the Paddles and the 2016 Sydney Harbour Challenge. We can’t wait to tick Vaka Eiva off our paddling bucket list and we are honoured to be part of the experience.

Rogz for Dogz - Australia/Hawaii

Rogz for Dogs have been attending Vaka Eiva since 2007. The team is made up of a group of paddling friends from different clubs and countries who do their own training and get together for some Cook Islands fun in sun. In 2014 they place first in the Round Raro Relay & Iron Open Mixed races and for 2015 second in the Iron and third in the Round Raro Relay. This year they have stepped up into the Master division and are keen to take it out. Rogz for Dogz have always been great supporters of the Esther Honey Foundation after discovering the wonderful work they do caring for Cook Islands animals.

Dial-Up.com - Australia

The 2016 crew includes Paul Taia, who is in his fourth consecutive Vaka Eiva event and paddles for Kai’Opua OCC Australia, based in Melbourne.

His team mate Anthony “Bon” Bonaccurso, also from KaiOpua Australia, is attending his third Vaka Eiva. He was the first adaptive paddler to be cleared to paddle in this event three years ago and is a very capable athlete. He has competed in Hawaii on may occasions at the annual Duke Fest as well as Queen Lili, the Takapuna Cup and various local and interstate events.

The rest of the team are from New Zealand and all have attended Vaka Eiva multiple times, Howie, Mike and Di are from Mount Maunganui. Julia is from Raglan and has many years of experience paddling in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Tahiti and Papua New Guinea. This team are a great bunch who love the Cook Islands.

Taurangawaewae Waka Sports Wahine - New Zealand

The Taurangawaewae Wahine have been building a squad for the last two years. This allows all the women to set goals at the start of season, while coping with the many challenges such as looking after children, and juggling busy lives. We train once a week in winter and three or four times a week in summer. With training throughout the year we then enter at least 90 per cent of all waka ama race events through all seasons locally and nationally, with the ultimate goal of entering the Rarotonga Vaka Eiva 2016. We stay focused to our goals and this year have gained momentum by making placings this year in all races wahine have entered. Numbers of adult women have grown from a humble 10 to close to 40 and this growth has created more opportunity within our club to enter more races. It also means there are more wahine out on the water doing what they love and passing on this love of waka to our whanau and children during the busy waka season. The club’s adult men have achieved a long record of success and are nationally one of the best senior crews within Aotearoa. With this influence and with the support of the Turangawaewae Waka Sports Committee we surrounded with experienced leadership. Our goal is to take four teams to Vaka Eiva in 2017 and and we are excited with the journey ahead.

Dirty Pirates- Tu Tangi Ora - New Zealand

The Tu Tangi Ora Dirty Pirates team is a group of parents who were press-ganged into service aboard some of our younger club member’s waka, so they could compete in the Round Raro Relay. Last year we braved the wind and swell in the iron races and this year the “younger” members reckon they are up for the changes race.

We have been paddling together as mixed teams for around four years, competing in various events around the upper North Island in New Zealand and will have brushed the dust off our “abandon ship” and “prepare to be boarded” drills in preparation for the big event.

The team reflects how great our sport is, enabling parents and older young paddlers to get together, form a team, get out there and have a great time on the water.

Tonga-rigines- Tonga

The Tonga-rigines (Tonga- ridge-a- knees) are a part of the Nuku’alofa Outrigger Canoe Club (NOCC), the only outrigger canoe club in Tonga. The team consists of Sal and Rochelle Fineanganofo, Rob and Lisa Brown, Maria Tuitavake and Tevita and Talaheu Lavaki (Talaheu is team manager). We have varying levels of paddling experience from 10 years through to six months and members range in age from 41 to 55. Some of the team members have competed in previous competitions. However, Vaka Eiva 2016 will be the first competition for Tevita and Maria. We are basically a group of good friends who enjoy the physical and social aspects of paddling.

Wai Nui O Kanaka - Canada

Regulars to Vaka Eiva, Rich Carson and Wendy Perkins gather together a group of friends to escape the cold winter of Canada to spend a month in the Cook Islands. They participate in both Vaka Eiva and Mote to Motu on Aitutaki. This year they are joined by a “lost” paddler from Hawaii, for their Iron race. He is Frederic Courteau, who will also be paddling with the Senior Master Bisons team from Mooloobah for the Round Raro Relay and any other team that is short of personnel.

Hoaloha O Ke Kai - USA, Australia

Hoaloha O Ke Kai represents paddling friendships that span time and locations. The majority of this crew is celebrating our 20th anniversary as paddlers/friends this year! We are all experienced paddlers, steersman and coaches, enjoyed racing OC6, V1, OC1 and OC2. We live in NSW Australia; California, Arizona, Virginia and Washington DC in the US, so all of us see the festival as a special opportunity to be together as an Ohana and to share a remarkable paddling and cultural experience in the Cook Islands.

           

International

Parihaka OCC- New Zealand

Tena koutou katoa! Parihaka Waka Ama are excited to be part of Vaka Eiva 2016. This year we have a team of seniors that will participate in the Open Round Raro and Irons event. We have juniors representing Parihaka in the singles. They also have the privilege of paddling with Ngakau Toa Vaka for the w6 events. We can’t wait to paddle and party, Raro-style!

 

Ikaika OCC- Australia

The club was formed in 1995 and over the last 20 years has gone from strength to strength with an ever-increasing membership of both competitive and recreational paddlers. The club’s location, in picturesque Pittwater, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, allows access to the protected expanse of Pittwater and offshore for ocean training in the Tasman Sea. This enables amateur and experienced paddlers to find conditions to suit their skill level almost every day of the year. Pittwater has a number of committed and long term members who ensure that everyone is given a range of opportunities to paddle, to improve their fitness, stamina and technique or for a leisurely paddle. Members range in age from early 20s to late 70s. They compete in age divisions including Open, Masters, Senior Masters and Golden Masters in Men, Women and Mixed divisions.

Our Vaka Eiva team of SNR Masters are looking forward to paddling and racing in the Cook Islands. The crew has competed a number of times at Hammo on Magnetic Island and also raced in Kona, Hawaii. After the stories we have heard about this great paddling event Vaka Evia members can’t wait to experience it for themselves.

American Dragons-Singapore

The American Dragons (Singapore) is a dual paddling club, training and competing in both Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe. Founded in 2005, the American Dragons (Singapore) are now a serious presence at all Singapore based paddling events as well as overseas events in both dragon boat and outrigger canoe. Team members come from many backgrounds from students to professionals and represent 26 different nationalities that share a love for the water, fitness and socialising.

Being far from most large outrigger events the American Dragons target 1 or 2 international races a year. 2014 gave us two 2nd place finishes at both Gold Coast Cup and Hong Kong Around the Island Race. For 2015 we paddled Sydney Harbour and tackled our first big water race thanks to the Paillolo Challenge between Maui and Moloka’i, and hope to use the knowledge learned there at Vaka Eiva.

Pittwater OCC - Australia

We are a motley mixed crew of oldies from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, including a founding club member and current president! Our coach has extensive experience of winning medals worldwide. We have two steerers with vast experience from international and local competition, and the rest of the crew are there for a wonderful experience in the Cook Islands.

Pacific Dragons - Sydney, Australia

The Pacific Dragons is a Dragon Boat and Outrigger Canoe Club whose members can be seen paddling around the harbour and ocean waters of Sydney, Australia. Our club is 22 years young with around 80 members and our mission is to enjoy all paddling sports through dedication, competition, good sportsmanship and club spirit. Many members of the team coming to Vaka Eiva 2016 have competed at the beautiful Cook Islands previously and are looking forward to the camaraderie and hospitality of the islands. For one couple, this trip is an opportunity to introduce their son to the place where the spark of their love was ignited. We wish all crews who are competing to have a great event and we look forward to meeting everyone.

I Mua Nui - Moorea, French Polynesia

I Mua Nui was established 23 years ago in August 1993 in Haapiti in the island of Moorea. Sonia Villierme was appointed club president and she was the first woman to be president of a va’a club in French Polynesia.

Initially dedicated to women and young people, including young people in difficulty, the club has has a history of training young people to a high level. From 1995 to 2007, I Mua Nui monopolised the top 10 of major va’a races with a third placing at the 2001 Hawaiki Nui Va’a race.

As the club is focused on training young people and has done very well at it, I Mua Nui is routinely stripped of its best rowers by other clubs.

I Mua Nui is also known for organising major sporting events. The Channel Race, a kayak race between Tahiti and Moorea, was held from 1995 to 2012. The event was a victim of its own success and had to be stopped in 2012 because the large number of participants that followed the introduction of V1 made security difficult. The Coco Beach race has been created to replace it and in 2016, I Mua Nui will host its 5th event. One aim of the event is to go international.

A new team is now supporting Sonia in organising the club and its training sessions.

Mooloobah Master Women - Australia

The Mooloolaba masters crew came about when a few ladies who hadn’t been to Vaka Eiva or the Cook Islands made it known that they were keen to go. So a team was formed around them, with the addition of other paddlers who had done the race before, some of them many times. We were struggling to fill our last spot so we asked a local. Annie Fisher agreed to help us out as we had the connection when she journeyed with us to Molokai with us in 2016. As we were unable to paddle there, we are really looking forward to getting in the boat with her this time.

Bisons Snr Master Men Mooloobah – Australia

“We are good paddlers …just ask us,” is the comment from long-time Vaka Eiva Veteran Allan Rasmussen who is joined by fellow veterans Mike Olds, Chris Willmott, Gordon Grivas, Colin Mclennan and Cliff Harris. We have roped three “lost” paddlers in to the mix, one from Hawaii, and two from Australia to make up a Round Raro Relay team. Rasmussen has an added interest in coming to Vaka Eiva every year as his daughter Becs is now considered a local, being the partner of our Elite paddler Andre Tutaka-George, and they are keen to see Allan and Jenny’s beautiful granddaughter here on Rarotonga.

Outrigger Caloundra -Australia

Outrigger Caloundra will be represented by a crew who are “just happy to be here!” We are best described as social paddlers who love to compete. Our mixed crew ranges from paddlers with over 10 years’ experience to those in just their second year. We competed in the 2015 Hamilton Island Clash of the Paddles and the 2016 Sydney Harbour Challenge. We can’t wait to tick Vaka Eiva off our paddling bucket list and we are honoured to be part of the experience.

Rogz for Dogz - Australia/Hawaii

Rogz for Dogs have been attending Vaka Eiva since 2007. The team is made up of a group of paddling friends from different clubs and countries who do their own training and get together for some Cook Islands fun in sun. In 2014 they place first in the Round Raro Relay & Iron Open Mixed races and for 2015 second in the Iron and third in the Round Raro Relay. This year they have stepped up into the Master division and are keen to take it out. Rogz for Dogz have always been great supporters of the Esther Honey Foundation after discovering the wonderful work they do caring for Cook Islands animals.

Dial-Up.com - Australia

The 2016 crew includes Paul Taia, who is in his fourth consecutive Vaka Eiva event and paddles for Kai’Opua OCC Australia, based in Melbourne.

His team mate Anthony “Bon” Bonaccurso, also from KaiOpua Australia, is attending his third Vaka Eiva. He was the first adaptive paddler to be cleared to paddle in this event three years ago and is a very capable athlete. He has competed in Hawaii on may occasions at the annual Duke Fest as well as Queen Lili, the Takapuna Cup and various local and interstate events.

The rest of the team are from New Zealand and all have attended Vaka Eiva multiple times, Howie, Mike and Di are from Mount Maunganui. Julia is from Raglan and has many years of experience paddling in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Tahiti and Papua New Guinea. This team are a great bunch who love the Cook Islands.

Taurangawaewae Waka Sports Wahine - New Zealand

The Taurangawaewae Wahine have been building a squad for the last two years. This allows all the women to set goals at the start of season, while coping with the many challenges such as looking after children, and juggling busy lives. We train once a week in winter and three or four times a week in summer. With training throughout the year we then enter at least 90 per cent of all waka ama race events through all seasons locally and nationally, with the ultimate goal of entering the Rarotonga Vaka Eiva 2016. We stay focused to our goals and this year have gained momentum by making placings this year in all races wahine have entered. Numbers of adult women have grown from a humble 10 to close to 40 and this growth has created more opportunity within our club to enter more races. It also means there are more wahine out on the water doing what they love and passing on this love of waka to our whanau and children during the busy waka season. The club’s adult men have achieved a long record of success and are nationally one of the best senior crews within Aotearoa. With this influence and with the support of the Turangawaewae Waka Sports Committee we surrounded with experienced leadership. Our goal is to take four teams to Vaka Eiva in 2017 and and we are excited with the journey ahead.

Dirty Pirates- Tu Tangi Ora - New Zealand

The Tu Tangi Ora Dirty Pirates team is a group of parents who were press-ganged into service aboard some of our younger club member’s waka, so they could compete in the Round Raro Relay. Last year we braved the wind and swell in the iron races and this year the “younger” members reckon they are up for the changes race.

We have been paddling together as mixed teams for around four years, competing in various events around the upper North Island in New Zealand and will have brushed the dust off our “abandon ship” and “prepare to be boarded” drills in preparation for the big event.

The team reflects how great our sport is, enabling parents and older young paddlers to get together, form a team, get out there and have a great time on the water.

Tonga-rigines- Tonga

The Tonga-rigines (Tonga- ridge-a- knees) are a part of the Nuku’alofa Outrigger Canoe Club (NOCC), the only outrigger canoe club in Tonga. The team consists of Sal and Rochelle Fineanganofo, Rob and Lisa Brown, Maria Tuitavake and Tevita and Talaheu Lavaki (Talaheu is team manager). We have varying levels of paddling experience from 10 years through to six months and members range in age from 41 to 55. Some of the team members have competed in previous competitions. However, Vaka Eiva 2016 will be the first competition for Tevita and Maria. We are basically a group of good friends who enjoy the physical and social aspects of paddling.

Wai Nui O Kanaka - Canada

Regulars to Vaka Eiva, Rich Carson and Wendy Perkins gather together a group of friends to escape the cold winter of Canada to spend a month in the Cook Islands. They participate in both Vaka Eiva and Mote to Motu on Aitutaki. This year they are joined by a “lost” paddler from Hawaii, for their Iron race. He is Frederic Courteau, who will also be paddling with the Senior Master Bisons team from Mooloobah for the Round Raro Relay and any other team that is short of personnel.

Hoaloha O Ke Kai - USA, Australia

Hoaloha O Ke Kai represents paddling friendships that span time and locations. The majority of this crew is celebrating our 20th anniversary as paddlers/friends this year! We are all experienced paddlers, steersman and coaches, enjoyed racing OC6, V1, OC1 and OC2. We live in NSW Australia; California, Arizona, Virginia and Washington DC in the US, so all of us see the festival as a special opportunity to be together as an Ohana and to share a remarkable paddling and cultural experience in the Cook Islands.

           

Tokoroa High School U16 Girls – New Zealand

Tokoroa High School’s waka ama club started up again in 2014 following a long rest period for the sport at the school and in the wider district. In 2015 the girls qualified for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Nationals Championship for the first time. With two enthusiastic teams, the sport has sprung to life again! These girls have worked and trained hard for the last two seasons, gaining momentum and placing on the podium early in 2016 at the Secondary School Nationals. Being seen as the underdogs only makes them more determined to succeed. And they are showing others exactly what the youth of Tokoroa are made of… strength, resilience, determination and passion.  Still learning the sport, perfecting techniques and developing an awareness of traditions associated with waka ama, they have held their heads high, immersing themselves amongst other more experienced paddlers and learning as much as possible. Always with a goal of paddling in the prestigious Vaka Eiva race in Rarotonga.

Having had the Vaka Eiva goal set since the very beginning, they have come a long way, raising enough money for their own paddles and vests (essential items required to race), and the entry fee for Vaka Eiva. Vaka Eiva is the first step of a five-month plan for our club and the district and the big goal, the 2016 New Zealand secondary school National Championship.  

Te Kura o Matapihi and Te Wharekura o Mauao –Tauranga New Zealand

Te Kura o Matapihi is a full immersion Year 0-8 Maori Primary School from Tauranga, Aotearoa. Since 2012, every two years we have sent our Year 7 and 8 class to Rarotonga for their biennial cultural overseas excursion, which the school has scheduled to coincide with Vaka Eiva. We have entered our tamariki in the Oe Mapu while they are in Rarotonga to be a part of the paddling week. Although our tamariki are aged 11 to 13, we have enjoyed being a part of this fun regatta in the past and have returned home with long-lasting memories. Although most of these tamariki are not “paddlers” and usually the Vaka Eiva is the only event they will paddle in. However, they all enjoy being a part of the event, making new friends and returning home with their awesome paddling shirts!

Te Wharekura o Mauao

This is a new Wharekura (place of learning) for year 7 to 13 tauira (students) from Tauranga, Aotearoa. Although there were students from the school competed in last year’s Vaka Eiva under their local club from Mount Maunganui, this is the first year that a group of paddlers has travelled to the Rarotonga event under the banner of the Wharekura. All the students participating this year are new to waka ama and are looking forward to this new challenge. They competed at the National Secondary School Sprint Regatta this year and have decided to participate in Vaka Eiva as part of their end of year school haerenga. Most of these tauira will be sitting their NCEA exams at Tereora College around paddling and they will visit the sights of Rarotonga. Being a part of Vaka Eiva will be another experience they will remember for years to come.

Cook Islands Outriggers Association – New Zealand

Tiare Maori U16 & U19 Girls

Our development teams were originally supposed to be competing at Vaka Eiva, but they now feature some of our club paddlers who attended the Worlds sprints in Australia. We have a diversity of cultures within this group of paddlers, with three paddlers of Cook Islands descent - Storme Pare, Tiraina Ramea-Angus and Alice McNamee. The girls have been training hard and racing through New Zealand’s cold weather and are all are ready for some long-awaited sunshine. This is the first Vaka Eiva experience for most of them and they will enjoy the racing and break, before heading back into training for the Nationals 2017.

Te Manga J19 Boys

From Auckland, New Zealand, this team has won medals every year at the New Zealand Nationals, New Zealand Long Distance and the Trans Tasman - Australia Gubbigubbi event. They also competed in the Australia waka ama World Sprint W6 and W12 event this year (2016). These boys have been successful in New Zealand and Australia. Their coach, Tui Daniels, will be attending his second Vaka Eiva this year.

Vaine Moana Intermediate Girls

The girls have been together since they started paddling in our midget’s division from the ages of about six and seven years old and are now 11 and 12 years old. They have competed at the New Zealand National Sprint titles held every year and won silver and bronze medals in the 250m, 500m, and 1000m sprints for four consecutive years in a row. They have competed internationally in Australia at the Trans Tasman Sprint Championships in Queensland as the only all-girls crew and up against all mixed crews, they won silver and bronze medals for 250m and 500m sprints. The girls are looking forward to their next challenge of competing at the Matson Vaka Eiva 2016 junior regatta and feel privileged and humbled to be able to do so.

Taumanu – New Zealand

Kia orana tatou katoatoa

We are a mixed masters team from the Cook Islands Outriggers club based in New Zealand. Don’t be misled by the introduction, as none of us can perform cultural dances and can only rattle together a sentence or two in Cook Islands Maori. We identify ourselves as a “fruit salad” team. We are a mixed team, full of flavour, different cultures, backgrounds, diverse waka paddling experience, and yet we are brought together by one commonality, the Cook Islands.

A mixed crew of matured masters, some of us are of Cook Islands bred and born, some of us never been to the islands, some of us are Maori and paddle for the Cook Islands Outriggers in New Zealand and think we are Kukis. So definitely an eclectic bunch, all with connections to Moana Nui A Kiwa.

We all bring strengths, diversity and experience to the waka. Five of us originally paddled for the Cook Island Outriggers in New Zealand, a waka ama club which has had big success over the years through their juniors. It is currently positioned as the fourth most successful club in New Zealand. We managed to rope in a local guy who happens to be visiting New Zealand, who has agreed to steer for us mature paddlers.

We are hard case bunch. We are looking forward to the large swells and waves and being immersed in the culture. Meitaki Maata from New Zealand.

Cook Islands

Ngakau Toa Vaka Tane

The Ngakau Toa Vaka Men are now into their second year of having full Open and Masters squads after a successful year of recruiting, the Open Men’s squad have a big core of young men who have moved up from under 19’s or are doing both divisions, this will be excellent for their development for the future, they will be a team to watch out for this year to take full honours after going close last year. The NTV Masters Crew after introducing 5 novices last year will be also be gunning for top spot, a lot of experience will have them also gunning for the top of the Podium in overall honours. The first up Iron races should determine who will be the favourites for the Round Raro Pacific Cup race, hopefully weather will permit the Teams to do a full circuit this year, NTV Masters versus the NTV Open Young Guns will be a Battle worth following.

 Kia Toa!!

Ngakau Toa Vaka Vaine

Ngakau Toa is active in recruiting new paddlers each year, and this year is no different with the club fielding a mix of both experienced and novice paddlers. Coached by Serena Hunter the open women’s crew comprises a number of national reps from last years Pacific Games, as well as a couple competing in their first Vaka Eiva. Majority of the masters crew are new paddlers who have been coached as novice paddlers by Chrissy Thomas assisted by Vaea Melvin. The club is also looking forward to fielding strong teams in the open and masters Round Raro Relay.

Ngakau Toa Vaka Oe Mapu

The Ngakau Toa Vaka juniors are an energetic bunch of enthusiastic young paddlers who, under the experienced guidance of head coach and club president Aunty Vaea Melvin and support from family and senior club members, are striving to continue the success of NTV as a force of Oe Vaka in the Cook Islands. The group of 40+ juniors vary in ages from under 12yrs through to under 19yrs and train 2-3 times a week juggling school, work & family commitments. Our U16 and U19’s have joined the open divisions to gain more experience and also with the hope to compete in this division in the upcoming Iron & the Round Raro Relay! They look forward to meeting their international cuzzies and are also very excited for the awesome oe mapu paddles up super hero party at the end of the competition.

Te Tupu O Te Manava

This year Te Tupu O Te Manava the “Red Club” will be putting up a number of crews in the open, senior masters, mixed and junior divisions, with our open and master men’s teaming up with local teams this year.

It goes without saying that VE is an event our club supports all the way both on the water and volunteering. We are really looking forward to being a part of sharing the event with our visiting paddling family.

Junior Boys

The year 2014 saw the beginnings of Te Tupu O Te Manava’s current Junior Boys. What started as “let’s give it a go” turned into a life-changing adventure, under the nurturing guidance of coach John Taulu. Fun, friendships, hard work, respect and God’s blessings, have kept the team tight. Heading into Vaka Eiva 2016, Teapai Tearaitoa, Ngao Miria, Tex Framheim, Samuela Vai Peua Tamaiti, Kome Tukaroa, Josiah Pureau and Davida Brothers lead the way, looking to reunite with Tangianau Kokaua, Brandon Ben, Maara Ngamata and Willyn Hagai. Although we have exams on at the same time, we wouldn’t miss paddling with you all in Vaka Eiva 2016. We look forward to welcoming you all to our beautiful paradise. Kia orana e kia manuia

The Boiler Babes

The Boiler Babes team for the Matson Vaka Eiva 2016 consists of eight Te Tupu paddlers and three from Life Free. The Te Tupu paddlers consist of the regulars: Emilene Taulu, Tai Cummings, Becs Rasmussen, Tina Lukupa and Charmaine Dolan with the addition of two new paddlers:Tareta Purea and Talissa Koteka and the return of Sammy Ellison (Puati). The Live Free members are Crossfitter, Rowena Newbigging, LF club president, Lorena Maru and elite paddler, Inano Matapo. 2016 has been a successful year with Emilene, Tai, Becs, Rowena and Lorena all competing at the World Sprint Championships held in Australia earlier this year. Becs also competed in Tahiti in July at Te Aito event with team member Tina Lukupa. Coached by Ray Lambert this team is still building and moulding together and they hope to bring strong competition to this year’s races.

Reremoana – Senior masters women

Yes they’re competing again! 2014-2015 SMW’s iron champions are hitting the water again defending their title. Having competed in the IVF World sprints in May sharpening their sprint skills, they will put their experience to the test in the iron and sprints events. They will team up with their “Boiler Silver Foxz” in the mixed races.

Boiler Silver Foxz

Boiler Silver Foxz will have a Masters and Senior Masters Team in this year’s Vaka Eiva. We will have two teams in the Iron race and a combination of the two teams for Round Raro, and will then join our sisters to do the Round Raro Mix on Friday.

The team includes three veterans who began paddling over two decades ago in Muri Lagoon. At the time we had two old Tahitian vakas that were not oceanworthy so all we knew was paddling in the lagoon. These paddlers were Sani Sosene (our very own “Nappy Napoleon”), Marc Cowan and Te Tupu’s current president, Sam Brown. These three have been part of a team in all or almost every Vaka Eiva from its inception. The others that make up the team include Paul Mangakahia, our silver foxes John Raita and Allen Sullivan, Kees Van Wijk our flying Dutchman and Robin Grant. These eight make up a crew that have paddled together for at least six years and have had their share of podium placings. The young guns of the team are last year’s Vaka Eiva virgins, Steve Mclean and Damien Beddoes. The team will be joined by our friend who is no stranger to Vaka Eiva, but this year is travelling solo, Rod Herbert from Gisborne, New Zealand.

Live Free

This team of social young ladies has been together for three years and it is their third year paddling at Vaka Eiva in and sprints. They participated at World Sprints 2016 on the Sunshine Coast, Australia and are looking forward to another year of Vaka Eiva, paddling, partying, and meeting paddlers from overseas.

Team Johana U16 & Team Aphrodite U19 women

Coached by Inano Matapo, these promising young women began their paddling career in our Vaka Iti Schools programme in 2012 and have continued their training with the goal of competing in Vaka Eiva. They are looking forward to meeting new friends and enjoying the unique festival atmosphere that is Vaka Eiva.

 

Tongan side set for dream debut

Tonga’s Nuku’alofa Outrigger Canoe Club (NOCC) is all set to make its debut in this year’s Matson Vaka Eiva competition which gets underway today in Rarotonga.

After failing to make it to last year’s event, the first Tongan side to compete in the annual paddling fiesta is looking forward to participating in the Vaka Eiva 2016 which they regard as a “world class” paddling competition.

Cook Islands News reporter Rashneel Kumar spoke to NOCC team member Robert Brown about the team’s history, preparation and plans in the lead up to Vaka Eiva 2016.

1. Would you please give a brief history of your club?

The Nuku’alofa Outrigger Canoe Club (NOCC) was formed by Salesi (Sal) and Rochelle Fineanganofo and a core of four or five other paddlers, who were passionate about the sport, in 2010. Sal applied for a grant to purchase the first two canoes and begged, borrowed and acquired paddles and equipment to make the club viable. He even borrowed from his aunty (on a permanent basis), a 40-foot shipping container that is now the NOCC club house (storage container). The club operates from the car park opposite the Bill Fish Hotel on Vuna Road in Nuku’alofa. This is the local slipway and the only easy access point in Nuku’alofa to the water.

2. What are some of the major events your team have participated in?

The Tonga-rigines as a team started paddling at the start of 2014 when we showed up to the slipway and Sal and Rochelle gave us a go at paddling. We haven’t looked back since then. The Tonga-rigines went to the Alo Paopoa outrigging Festival in Samoa in 2014, participating in the Masters Mixed division, along with the first female outrigging team (Taufatahi) from Tonga. This was the first time a Tongan Team had been to Samoa. In February 2015, we had a Male Open team take part in the Hawaiian Airlines Sydney Harbour Challenge. In addition we had two teams attend the World Sprints in Australia in 2016. So we are slowly starting to raise the interest level in outrigging in Tonga and getting Tongan Teams into international level competitions.

The current Tonga-rigines (Tonga – ridge- a - knees) consists of Sal and Rochelle Fineanganofo, Rob and Lisa Brown, Maria Tuitavake and Tevita and Talaheu Lavaki (Talaheu is the team manager). We have varying levels of paddling experience from 10 years through to 6 months and of varying ages from 41 to 55. Some of the Team members have competed in previous competitions. However, Vaka Eiva 2016 will be the first competition for Tevita and Maria. We are basically a group of good friends who enjoy the physical and social aspects of paddling.

3. Is this the team’s first time at the Vaka Eiva? What is the feeling like in the camp with the prospect of competing in this event?

We did try and attend Vaka Eiva in 2015. However, due to work and family commitments things just didn’t happen. Since then two of the original members have moved on and have been replaced by Maria Tuitavake and Tevita Lavaki. Everyone is looking forward to coming to the Cook Islands and participating in as many events and activities as possible during Vaka Eiva. This will be the first competition for Maria and Tevita so hopefully that nervous energy will give us the boost we need. We have followed Vaka Eiva 2015 closely and I think a few of the team are concerned about the potential weather conditions. We are used to paddling in choppy water; however the addition of a big rolling swell will be a challenge. This will be the first time a Tongan team has attended Vaka Eiva. Preparation has been going reasonably well; however illness, work and family commitments have all impacted on the training schedule.

4. What are the team’s expectations heading into Vaka Eiva 2016?

The entire team is really looking forward to participating in Vaka Eiva. At this stage we are in the 12km and 500m sprint. We did volunteer to do the Around Rarotonga as an Iron with no swapouts. However, no other team signed up to the event. So we are looking for four other paddlers to hook up for the Around Rarotonga Swapout race. We are certainly expecting a high level of competition on the water and a fun time off the water. We would like to think we are good enough to compete, but we are happy just to participate in a world class event.

5. How has been the preparation like? Teams who participate in the Vaka Eiva normally undergo an intense training.

Preparation started in July. The training schedule has been as follows:

Monday – 12km, Tuesday – weights, Wednesday – weights, Thursday – 12km and Sprints, Friday – Club paddling, Saturday – 12km race or a longer 18km plus paddle, Sunday – rest.

The normal family/work commitments and people getting sick have all impacted on the training. However, we will give it our best shot in November.

6. Any other comments you would like to add regarding this event?

We are hoping our attendance will encourage other members of the NOCC to participate in more overseas events. In addition, we are hoping that Tonga being awarded the 2019 South Pacific Games will give outrigging the boost it needs in Tonga. Who knows - the first outrigger festival in Tonga may be in 2020. Just a quick note for anyone coming to Tonga: We have regular paddlers from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Samoa who when they are in town, come and paddle with us. The invitation to paddle is extended to all paddlers across the Pacific. Just log on to https://www.facebook.com/Nukualofa-Outrigger-Canoe-Club-NOCC Facebook page and drop us a line and we will do our best to get you out on the water.

 

1 comment

  • Comment Link Gary Finnigan Friday, 27 January 2017 16:24 posted by Gary Finnigan

    Hi Guys, I think you got the IKAIKA and Pittwater clubs blurb mixed up, The article under the heading Ikaika OCC is straight off the Pittwater ORC website and IKAIKA is only a small club and only ever had 2 women members.

    Also I was looking for the results of the races, do you know where they are posted.

    Thanks.
    Gary Finnigan
    Head Coach and Registrar
    Pittwater Outrigger Racing Club

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