Held at the convergence of the city’s three rivers, the race evening was held to raise funds for Kaiarahi Toa, the Horouta Waka Hoe Club’s open women’s team who are heading to the world championships in Canada in August.
Paddlers Kiwi Campbell, Bess Halley, Rachael Williams, Kayla Peters, Alex Sinclair and Vesna Radonich, along with manager Florrie Brooking are more than $3000 towards their massive $52,000 total for the big trip.
Kiwi and Florrie are both staff members at EIT Tairawhiti, with Kayla a Bachelor of Business Studies student.
Twenty-six teams – which were melded into 13 double waka teams – from all over the region took part in the EIT Tairawhiti sponsored races which saw some spirited and fiercely fought battles as they sprinted for the line. Paddlers ranged in age from nine years old through to 60-plus.
Florrie says they were rapt with the event and after keen interest from many, are looking to make it an annual affair.
The day was won by Gisborne District Council’s team One Giant Leap. “People were certainly very passionate about the racing,” says Brooking. “We were quite surprised at just how much interest there was in the day… clearly it’s an activity that people enjoy.”
EIT Tairawhiti’s own team, including the youngest paddler at the event, was second in the preliminary final.