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Horouta champions

Horouta Waka Hoe Club were crowned points champions at the end of the Waka Ama New Zealand sprint nationals at Lake Karapiro on Saturday.

They have now won the Matahi Brightwell-carved trophy eight of the nine times it has been contested.

They finished with 343 points, over double the number of runners-up Ruamata Waka Ama Club (145pts).

Gisborne’s other big club, waka ama pioneers Mareikura, were at one stage second in the points standings on the back of strong showings in the junior and young women’s divisions, and a resurgence in their men’s paddling. They finished 10th on the points table, on 93.

New club YMP Waka Ama had 46 points.

This year 3577 paddlers from 61 clubs competed in 10 age divisions from Monday to Saturday last week.

Horouta had a big day to finish. Premier men’s team Woolley Kumaras won the W6 1500-metre race (with five turns) in a time of 7 minutes 13.11 seconds, 0.61 of a second in front of runners-up Hot White from Nga Hoe Horo Outrigger Canoe Club.

In the premier women’s W6 1500m, Horouta powerhouse crew Kaiarahi Toa finished one back from their customary winner’s position, nearly 11 seconds behind Haeata Ocean Sports crew MJ’s.

But they turned the tables in the W6 500m final, winning in a time of 2:07.88, over two seconds ahead of runners-up MJ’s.

Horouta master women’s crew Nga Kopara Toa were second in the W6 1000m and third in the W6 500m, 0.1 of a second behind runners-up Mako of Ruamata.

The Horouta club’s master men’s crew Team Voltron were second in the W6 1000m and the W6 500m.

Horouta J19 women’s crew Hinetoa were third in the W6 500m.

YMP Waka Ama J19 women’s crew Hinetu finished second in the W6 1000m.

The regatta’s closing events were the J19 and premier division individual races in the 250m dash. Horouta paddlers Rangi-Riana Williams and Te Aomihia Pewhairangi were first and second respectively in the J19 women’s race. Their times were 1:17.33 and 1:18.95.

Former Tairawhiti paddler Darius Apanui-Nepe, now competing for Waitakere Outrigger Canoe Club, won the J19 men’s dash in 1:05.40. Horouta paddler Anaru Paenga-Morgan was fourth in 1:08.2.

National elite women’s sprint coach and Kaiarahi Toa coach and steerer Kiwi Campbell was runner-up to Marama Elkington, of TOA Waka Ama Club, in the premier women’s 250m dash.

The winner’s time was 1:15.53, just over half a second less than that of Campbell.

Horouta paddler Ash Roozendaal was second in the premier men’s dash, one second behind Akarana paddler Manutea Millon, whose time was 1:04.31.

Defending champion Tupu King, who won this race five years in a row, was fourth.

The Ace Cuthers Memorial Club Spirit Award went to Mitamitaga o le Pasefika Va’a-alo Canoe Club. This trophy — also carved by Matahi Brightwell — went to the club chosen by the event volunteers and officials as being exemplary in the values of waka ama — manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, hauora and tu tangata.

The final day of competition featured 24 finals, 12 of which were back to back. The master 70-plus women’s W6 500m race had the regatta’s oldest paddler, 82-year-old Ngahuia Morehu, in one of the two crews.

When the medals were being presented at the end of the day, three inductees to the Waka Ama New Zealand Hall of Fame were announced.

This initiative recognises people who have contributed to the growth, development or legacy of waka ama.

This year Raipoia Brightwell, of Mareikura Waka Ama Club, received a carved tohu (award) to mark her induction, and Chrissy Herbert and her husband Bo, of Nga Hoe Horo, were inducted posthumously. See that story here.

VICTORY JOY: Horouta Waka Hoe Club’s premier women’s crew Kaiarahi Toa celebrate winning the W6 500m final, turning the tables on the Haeata Ocean Sports crew MJ’s, who beat them in the W6 1500m. Picture by Garrick Cameron