New Zealand's outrigger canoe "first family" - the King whanau from Cable Bay - lived up to their royal reputation at the recent 26th ActivePost Waka Ama Sprint National Championships at Lake Karapiro.

Prince of paddlers Tupuria King, 21, recorded his third successive year of individual dominance at the nationals with wins in the premier men's W1 500m event and the 250m dash.

His mother Nyree once again won the senior women's masters W1 500m race, while his father David finished third in the senior men's masters W1 500m final.

Tupuria's older sister Rose, 23, was fourth in both the premier women's 250m dash and the women's W1 500m.


And his twin sister Riana was fourth in the U23 W1 500m final. Both she and Rose were only just pipped for podium finishes.

The only person in the family not competing in the six-day championships on February 12-17 was oldest daughter Hannah, 25. She's a paddler, but she lives in Christchurch.

Mr King, a self-employed builder, started training his children in waka ama at a young age - pushing them out into Doubtless Bay on outriggers when they were 6 or 7.

Mrs King, who is deputy principal at Taipa Area School, said she used to sit on the beach and watch. Then she got in with a team of women, including Hilda Harawira, who were experienced paddlers and joined them on the water.

"I didn't mind being a bunny in a good team. I didn't want to be a bunny in a team of dummies," she said.

Tupuria is studying sport and leisure at Waikato University on a Sir Edmund Hillary scholarship. His mother would like to see him further his education so he could teach, but he already gets invited to run waka ama coaching clinics and his career path could take him to Sport Northland or a similar organisation where he can share his special paddling skills.

Tupuria polished his paddling during two trips to Tahiti, where the locals are the world's best in rudderless outrigger canoes. In a big race there with around 600 entrants he improved his placing from 127th on his first trip to Tahiti to 68th last year, when he was the best New Zealand competitor.

He is expected to be paddling in the 32km James Bhutty Moore-morial Race from Maketu to Mt Maunganui on February 7, the Takapuna Beach Cup 42km marathon around Rangitoto on February 21 and the seventh annual 30km/35km Bo Herbert Memorial at Tutukaka on February 28-March 1.