Nearly 400 competitors from 18 maraes, past and present, set out to race each other in excellent conditions at the Raukotahi Waka Ama Marae Challenge on the Whanganui River on Saturday.
A regular event on all marae calendars, the challenge allows uri (descendants) of Te Awa o Whanganui to come together and celebrate the awa, their Whanganuitanga and, of course, the competitive nature of sport.
Racing in different divisions, the course started at the Dublin Street bridge and headed downstream to the finishing buoys, with the marquee city set up on Lower Kowhai Park Rd for all the teams and their supporters.
Organiser Seletar Taputoro said there were two rounds of racing for each group to find the finalists, while the Kaumātua had a popular one-off race amongst themselves at midday.
Among the maraes being represented were sites both on the river and around the mountain where the physical maraes themselves are now gone, but their legacies can still be honoured by the modern generation.
Also, school teams raced together as they continue their preparations for the secondary school nationals in three weeks time.
Taputoro said one of the reasons the day ran so well was each waka ama club was given a specific task to look after for the day, be it the recycling or the opening waiata.
"Bringing a nice mix to the admin is always good."
The overall vibe of the day was unity and fun, until the crews had to race each other, "and then it's no mercy and you go again".
The youngest competitor on the day was six-years-old, while the oldest was about 78.
"That's why it's such a great sport - you don't even need to have paddled before, to jump in," said Taputoro.
The term 'Raukotahi' comes from the way in which elders remind the youth of the next generation of who, and what, contributes to their make-up.
Sponsors and supporters included Nga Tangata Tiaki o Whanganui – Te Mana o Te Awa, Whanganui Cancer Society, Sport Whanganui, Native Sounds, Maori Wardens, Whanganui Outrigger Canoe Club, Te Ringa Miti Tai Heke, Ratana Paa Kaihoe Trust, Whanganui Awa Paddlers and Maunga Sports Trust.
Raukotahi Aggregate Award: Koangarehua Marae
Raukothi Kaumātua Award: Koangarehua Marae
Raukotahi Whānau Award: Ranana Marae
Taitamariki (midgies) 5-9 years: 1. Koangarehua; 2. Ranana; 3. Matahiwi; 4. Whitianga; Tamariki (inties) 10-13 years: 1. Ratana; 2. Ratana; 3. Te Aroha; 4. Whitianga. Taiohi (youth) 14-18 years: 1. Ranana; 2. Atene; 3. Ratana; 4. Kauangaroa; Kura Tuarua (secondary schools): 1. Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tupoho; 2. Whanganui City College; 3. Manukura; 4. Manukura; Pakeke (adults) 19+ years: 1. Patiarero; 2. Upokotauaki; 3. Whiritaunoka; 4. Uenuku Ararau; Kaumātua (elders) 60+ years: 1. Ratana; 2. Patiarero; 3. Koangarehua; 4. Koangarehua; Whānau (family) 5-60+ years: 1. Patiarero; 2. Kauangaroa; 3. Whitinanga; 4. Te Aroha.