The Rotorua Waka Festival is continuing to make a splash this weekend with two final events at the Lakefront.

The week began with Te Arawa Games Races last Sunday, primary schools races on Monday, then the National Secondary Schools Champs drew almost 2000 rangatahi for races at Tikitapu (Blue Lake) from Tuesday to Friday.

Fierce competition at the Waka Ama National Secondary Schools Championships. Photo / Supplied
Fierce competition at the Waka Ama National Secondary Schools Championships. Photo / Supplied

Today the Hei Matau Paddlers will host teams from French Polynesia, and around the North Island, for 10km and 15km races around Mokoia Island, before a 'have a go' day on Sunday from 10am to 2pm, also at the Lakefront.

Committee member Mel Rika said the planning for this weekend's events began last year.

Advertisement

For the last month, she has been busy booking buildings and areas at the Lakefront, organising safety boats and coordinating with nearby businesses.

Mel Rika at the Rotorua Lakefront. Photo / Stephen Parker
Mel Rika at the Rotorua Lakefront. Photo / Stephen Parker

"We have more than 35 six-person waka (W6) teams entered, and more than 25 single-person waka (W1) entries at the moment," she said.

She hoped the event would grow even bigger next year, with more entries, and hopefully some from the South Island too.

Rika said the week's events had been fantastic.

"I love it, it's really great. We hope that more people will be drawn to the sport this weekend. We have a demonstration happening with kuia racing tamariki. We will also have waka kopapa, traditional waka tētē, and ulua."

The Hei Matau Paddlers events have been supported with grants from the Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust, Te Puia, and spot prizes from businesses including Canopy Tours, Skyline Rotorua, and Polynesian Spa.


Timetable of Hoea ki Mokoia, Mokoia Island races
7am Volunteers and safety boat briefing
7.30am Registration, rigging waka and safety checks
8am Karakia and briefing
8.30am W6 Men - 15km
8.45am W1 Women - 10km
9am Novice and juniors - 10km
11am W6 Women - 15km
11.15am W1 Men - 10km
1.30pm Mixed teams - 15km
3pm Prizegiving