Dominant New Zealanders seize 79 medals and nine world records, shunting favourites Tahiti out of No 1 ranking.

In a breathtaking display of ownership on the water, New Zealand dominated the recent International Va'a (waka ama) Federation world sprint championships.

With equal measures of poise and power, the Kiwi team took 79 medals and nine world records to cement their world No 1 ranking, pushing favourites Tahiti into second place.

The world championships took place at Lake Kawana on Australia's Sunshine Coast, with 2200 paddlers representing 23 countries, but it was clear from the outset that New Zealand were the team to beat.

The first two days were given over to the newly created elite world championships, and New Zealand's female paddling excellence quickly became apparent. The Aotearoa women's elite team scored a clean sweep, winning gold in all three categories raced: V12 500m, V6 1500m and V6 500m.


Making a bald statement that the new guard are primed and ready, the junior development women's team set new world records and took gold in their two categories, V6 1000m and V6 500m.

Continuing the stunning display of Kiwi class, the men's elite team forced the world-dominant Tahitians to their first silver in 14 years in the V6 500m.

The men's elite and junior development team snapped up another silver and two bronzes to complete New Zealand's outstanding elite debut. And they were just warming up.

For the first time, New Zealand sent an adaptive (para) Va'a team.

Eight paddlers led by the experienced Roni Nuku competed: vision-impaired Amy Jane (AJ) MacDonald guided by Nuku clinched New Zealand's first gold medal in the (VL3) V1 500m. George Thomas and Jo Pikia each picked up a silver in the (VL2) V1 250m; MacDonald nabbed silver in the (VL3) V1 250m and Thomas another silver in the (VL2) V1 500m to complete the adaptive team's inspiring performance.

In the following days, 555 paddlers from 29 New Zealand clubs would take the start line in various club world championship events.

Continuing the standard set by the elite and para teams, the Kiwis delivered stand-out performances again and again to take 22 of the 42 medals on offer. It was a New Zealand-only podium at times as the J16 women, J19 women, M40 men and M40 women made a clean sweep of gold, silver and bronze medals in the V1 500m.

Dominating their division, the J16 women's team went on to a hat-trick in the V6 500m and V6 1000m.

Sarah Holderness and Theo Vale proved New Zealand's capability across the board as they each took silver in the masters 70 V1 500 category.

The Kiwis weren't always content to be first across the line. New Zealand smashed nine world records over the 10-day event.

To complement the two records set by the junior women's development team, Mareikura Waka Ama Club (Gisborne) toppled the J16 women's V6 1000m record and Ruamata (Rotorua) set records in the M40 women's V6 500m and M50 women's V6 1000m.

In outstanding singles performances over V1 500m, Kiwi women set records in the J16 (Tia Akurangi), J19 (Akayshia Williams), W40 (Nicky Kingi) and W50 (Nyree King) events.

Waka Ama
International Va'a Federation world sprint championships
What: Waka ama world champs
When: May 5-15
Where: Lake Kawana, Sunshine Coast, Australia
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