Sonya is the head of news at the Bay of Plenty Times.

Waka ama club swamped

The Ruamata Waka Ama Club has been overwhelmed by the number of people who attended their open day in Ngongotaha.

Club members have recently returned from the national waka ama championships and wanted to use their success as a way to attract new paddlers.

President Heeni Hope said she was overwhelmed by the response at yesterday's open day. She said a large number of the people turned up to the lake front to have a go at paddling and many had been friends or whanau of people already in the club.

"It's amazing for us to see the profile that not only the club has but waka ama has after 10 years. I would like to think it sustains itself, the good results then sow the seeds for more good results. We will soon see whether the people today will stick with it and paddle competitively or whether they will prefer social paddling."

Ms Hope said about 80 people had turned up to the open day, some of whom were members of the club already, some who were supporters from other clubs and others who were new to paddling.

She said the waka ama teams in the area had a good relationship and helped each other out.

Club member Steve Hohepa was among those taking people out for a paddle on the lake. Mr Hohepa was a gold medallist in the W1 masters at the nationals at Lake Karapiro this month.

He said he had taken about 20 new people out on the lake.

"We've been taking them out and showing them a bit of how to paddle. Before this, I'd really only helped train my kids."

Mr Hohepa had been involved in waka ama for 10 years - seven years competitively - and in that time had also got his children involved in the sport.

His son Nona also took out a first place at the nationals in the 250m dash and his other son also competes, as well as his youngest daughter.

"We all went together. When we can, we practise together although one of my sons lives in Auckland so it's not too often. I'm proud of how they've done."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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