A Stratford waka ama competitor has come home with three medals after being part of the New Zealand Waka Ama Para Va'a Team which competed at the IVF World Sprint Championships in Tahiti.

Jo Pikia was awarded gold in the 250m singles race, silver in the 500m singles race and bronze in the 500m team event.

Jo says she is pretty stoked with the result and proud of her team, which brought home seven gold, four silver and two bronze medals.

The competition went for two days, but the team had four days of training leading up to the event which allowed them time to acclimatise to the hotter environment. Jo says conditions were pretty flat for the 500m singles race which she came second in by only 0.6 of a second.


During her 250m race, it was a bit choppier but Jo managed to take a strong lead.

Jo, who recently moved to Taranaki from Hamilton, was part of a team of 13 which is made up of both men and women of all age groups. She competed in a crew of six as well as individually during the competition.

Waka ama — or outrigger canoeing — was used in the Pacific Islands for centuries and is now a growing sport in New Zealand. Five teams represented New Zealand during the championships, competing against teams from all over the worlds, including top teams from Tahiti. Jo has been involved with the sport for eight years and was previously involved with dragon boat racing for 10 years.

She suffered a serious spinal injury, becoming an incomplete paraplegic in 2013. This meant that although Jo was disabled from the chest down — she still had some feeling in parts of her body. She was confined to a wheelchair up until 2015 but became mobile again after a lot of hard work.

She thanked her family and friends for supporting her and the TSB Community Trust for its sponsorship.