With only 6 weeks left to go we thought we better let you know how things are going. So if you didn’t know already, The University of Auckland’s Engineering Waka Ama Team is currently in training to go and compete in Hawaii at the end of August.

Who are we?

We are the University of Auckland’s Engineering Waka Ama Team, and also the University of Auckland Tertiary Waka Ama Team, but we like to call ourselves The Floating Eagles. There are 8 of us in the team with 4 boys and 4 girls.

 The Team

In the team this year we have;


From Left: Josie Stevens, Sarah Carson, Jess Retter.

Nona Taute-Hohepa, Dallas Watene, Georgia Naera, Vaoala Enessa, Billy Bowman.

Coach – Leki Funaki.



What is Waka Ama?

Waka Ama also known as Outrigger Canoeing is an on water sport much like Kayaking,  Rowing and Dragon Boating. However the boats we paddle in, the paddles we use, and our paddling technique is different. You could really ask well what even is the similarity then? But trust me they look similar, so if you’ve never heard of Waka Ama or Outrigger Canoeing, this should give you a bit of an idea


Showing off our on point technique


Why are we going to Hawaii?

The University of Auckland puts on The Great Waka Ama Race every year. The race starts at Takapuna beach and involves faculties and associations at the University competing against each other in a 5km paddle to Rangitoto Island, followed by an 8km return run to the summit, with another 5km paddle back to shore. The prize for winning is an all expenses paid trip by the university to Hawaii to compete in The Queen Liliuokalani Long Distance Waka Ama regatta. Our Engineering Waka Ama team was fortunate enough to take the win for The Great Waka Ama Race for the second year in a row and start our journey to Hawaii again.

So now that you have a bit of insight as to who we are, and what we’re doing we will introduce the team and ourselves. Each week we will introduce two members of our team in our ‘personal profiles of the week’.

For your entertainment this year, you get not one, but two bloggers to help share with you the ups, downs, trainings, and all around experience our team takes as we embark on our journey to Hawaii.

First off we have…

Name: Sarah Carson

Degree: Fourth year Chemical Materials Engineer

From: Auckland

When did you start paddling?

I did dragon boating in high school, but if you ask most of the paddlers they’ll say dragon boating is nothing compared to Waka Ama. I got recommended to join the team this year by fellow paddler Josie who was in the team last year. I just turned up to the first training and it carried on from there.

What do you hope to get out of the trip?

I am really looking forward to experiencing the culture and atmosphere in Hawaii. I have not competed before but the team is eager to win gold and that is the goal so I do hope we can achieve this.

Sarah is also one of the newest members of our team, so just quickly Sarah, tell us what it’s like to be a Floating Eagle?

It is very different from dragon boating that’s for sure. Took me a long time to get used to paddling on both sides of the Waka. I still have a lot to improve on as it is only my first year paddling but I love being out on the water with the team and I am considering joining a club next year as I will hopefully have passed by degree.

Next up we have…

Name: Georgia Naera

Degree: First year Engineering

From: Rotorua, New Zealand

When did you start paddling?

I started Waka Ama when I was 7 years old and have been competing in all levels of competition ever since.

What do you hope to get out of the trip?

I would love to bring home a gold medal but the goal really is to be able to bring home gold medals for each of our races. Other than this I am really looking forward to having a good time with my team in Hawaii and just enjoying the experience together.

Neither of us have ever blogged before so we do apologise in advance for whatever is to come, but we hope you enjoy!

The Great Waka Ama Race

In order to obtain this opportunity to go to Hawaii and receive the treats a lot of mahi had to be done. We trained twice a week from the beginning of February until three weeks out from the race where we increased that to 3 times a week. Our trainings mainly involved working on paddling technique for us newbies as well as building on stamina and pace and in general gelling as team. From the start our main focus was teamwork and timing we knew that the only way we would be able to win this race was by doing it as a team. We also focused a lot on the run, this was a key point in the race that would make or break us. Both Jess and Sarah were selected to be two of the four runners and had never done the run up Rangitoto before. So for these two the main focus was getting fit for race day.

Then along came race day. We tried to arrive early to Takapuna to settle and prepare ourselves, but our team is not known for being on time. Once everyone had finally arrived and Waka checks and warm ups started the nerves finally began to kick in. The team got off to a great start leading the pack and arrived at Rangitoto first. As soon as we hit the beach Sarah, Jess, Billy and Nona were out of the Waka and started the long haul up to the summit. We decided our plan of attack for the run was to stay together and run it as a team so there was no chance of anyone being left behind. The run was definitely not easy and the girls required a lot of help from the boys. We were the first team for all members to reach the summit followed by a speedy descend back to the Waka. At this point we were roughly ten minutes ahead of the other teams but the paddle back required all of our focus as the swell picked up on our way back to shore, we had to try our best to keep the Waka from capsizing. We arrived at Takapuna to a cheering crowd and all ran through the finish line together. We started the race as a team and finished it as a team.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

You can watch the highlights of the Great Waka Ama Race 2017 below.


Over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you updates on our training sessions on the water and in the gym as well as some of the races we have entered in preparation for Hawaii. So watch this space and find out how our journey to Hawaii turns out.