Hundreds come to paddle

.The Nui Taniwha team from Dunedin’s Fire in Ice waka ama club took first place in the Junior...
.The Nui Taniwha team from Dunedin’s Fire in Ice waka ama club took first place in the Junior Women’s division of the Icebreaker Waka Ama regatta on Otago Harbour at the weekend. PHOTO: KATHERINE GREER
Hundreds of paddlers from across New Zealand set out on to a chilly Otago Harbour in the 20th annual Icebreaker Waka Ama regatta over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Hosted by Dunedin’s Fire in Ice outrigger canoe club, the regatta attracted 241 paddlers from Auckland to the far South.

Fire in Ice club member Kim Thomas said the event’s organisers were concerned that South Island paddlers might struggle to reach Dunedin due to road bridge closures after recent flooding in Canterbury.

"Coupled with having to cancel the event last year, we really had to cross fingers — well cross everything — and we had a great outcome," Ms Thomas said.

Among the many highlights of the regatta was Christchurch waka ama club Te Waka Pounamu winning the trophy for "club of the regatta" after winning the most races.

At an awards evening on Sunday at the Otago Polytechnic Mason Centre, stalwart Dunedin paddler Vivienne Harvey was feted for her 27-year contribution to waka ama since 1994.

Ms Harvey was the first South Island member of Waka Ama NZ to be named in the organisation’s Hall of Fame, established in 2015 to recognise outstanding contributors.

The achievement of Fire in Ice coach Toko Vakatin, who inspired club members to organise the first South Island outrigger canoe regatta was also celebrated.

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