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
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
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
“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
“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.