Paddlers splash out at Waitangi waka festival

More than 150 paddlers from Waitakere to Kaitaia took part in the inaugural Bay of Islands Waka Ama Festival on Ti Beach over the weekend. Saturday’s events included a relay of four legs of 5km each (won by Ngati Rehia’s Seven Kidneys team, so called because one of the four paddlers gave up a kidney for a sick family member), midget races for the youngest paddlers, and mid-distance races in the W6 (six-seater) class. On Sunday the toughest paddlers competed in a 25km race around Motuarohia Island called Te Taiawhio o Ipipiri, a race founded 25 years ago by waka ama legend Kris Kjelsden and revived after a 17-year absence. Photos by Peter de Graaf.