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Proud Oe Vaka junior girls receive world medals

Wednesday 27 September 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Paddling, Sports


Proud Oe Vaka junior girls receive world medals
Ngakau Toa Vaka junior girls received their bronze medals for the 2023 International Va’a Federation (IVF) World Paddling Distance Championships From Left: Fletcher Melvin - Ngakau Toa Vaka President, Madison Spurle, Metua-Ani Raea-Araitia, Pourie Kaina, Emii Ringia-Akava, Aliya Reuther, Te Iri Henderson, Jenna Tere - Team Manager. At Back: Tunoa Kaina - Coach. Absent - Aleida Tere. MELINA ETCHES/ 23092201

The Cook Islands Under 16 junior girls oe vaka world champions are proud and excited to finally be presented with their bronze medals, after their epic race at the 2023 International Va’a Federation (IVF) World Paddling Distance Championships (10 - 19th August) in Apia, Samoa.

Officials had been advised in Samoa that some medals had been stolen, therefore, some medallists would be posted their medals.

True champions, the junior girls, who are members of the Ngakau Toa oe vaka club, have not dwelled on having to wait for their medals, and have stayed committed to their water training three days a week and running up the Hospital hill.

Over a week ago, the “super excited” girls were presented their well-deserved medals by Tangata Fletcher Melvin from Ngakau Toa.

Metua-Ani Raea-Araitia one of the team members said: “I felt incredibly proud and accomplished receiving my bronze medal, standing alongside my amazing teammates.

“It was such a rewarding moment, after all the hard work and dedication leading up to the competition.

“I’ll never forget the excitement and joy I felt that day.”

Raea-Araitia added, meeting other teams at the race was a “fantastic experience” and making connections with other athletes from different backgrounds and cultures.

Another team member Pourie Kaina said “special memories” have been forged within their team throughout their oe vaka journey.

Kaina said being presented their medals was a very special and rewarding experience.

“I was thinking about all the hard early morning and afternoon trainings - it was all well worth it.

“Competing with paddlers from around the world was so thrilling, and sharing stories and experiences with people from different cultures,” said Kaina.

Both Raea-Araitia and Kaina are looking forward to the world sprints competition that will be held in Hawaii next year 2024.

They are both hopeful and determined to represent the country again, in the sport they love.

Tunoa Kaina (Pourie’s mum) accompanied the team to Samoa.

“I’m so proud of our young team, they have worked extremely hard for their place in the world of paddling.

“We are all so proud, happy and excited for our babies.

“The future of these girls is exciting,” she said.

The girls team are currently preparing for their exams coming up very soon and attending night classes offered by Tereora College.

Once the exams are done they will be participating in the upcoming Vaka Eiva (24th November to 1 December), oe vaka competition in the U19 division.

The next challenge for the team is the Worlds Sprints 2024 in Hawaii, a “totally different beast” from the distance races in Samoa.

On behalf of the Ngakau Toa president Fletcher Melvin and Team Manager Jenna Tere, Tunoa Kaina would like to acknowledge: Our Heavenly Father, the parents of the girls team, and sponsors Federal Pacific Insurance, Raro Plumbing, Jane Store in Manihiki, Site Works, CITC Supermarket; Tepoave and Rua Araitia, Annie Fisher, and the Cook Islands Canoeing  Association for their guidance and assistance, not forgetting the two clubs Ngakau Toa Vaka and Te Tupu o Te Manava.

“A special mention to Ngakau Toa Vaka whose junior programme to develop paddling in the Cook Islands has brought these girls a long way, these girls winning a podium finish at the world distance race is a testament to how awesome Ngakau Toa are,” stated Tunoa Kaina.