By Te Karere


Waka ama continues to grow with a large number of paddlers competing at this year’s 29th annual Waka Ama National Competition in Karapiro making it one of New Zealand’s fastest growing sports.

Over 3000 competitors are expected to take to the water and organiser Lara Collins says it could get even bigger.

“We're really looking forward to it starting so that we can get it all underway and we're happy with all the preparation and should be a great week.”

1300 teams, 3300 paddlers have registered for the competition and Collins says preparations have changed this year.

“In order to cope with more teams every year we're halving the lanes for our straight races so that allows us to have more people racing and should make it a bit more exciting as well.”

The competition will see six days of competition; however, Collins also says the event could get longer if more teams register in the upcoming years.

“There's potential for us to start earlier Monday morning, have the pōwhiri on Sunday, those sorts of things, so we got a lot of room up our sleeves to allow it to grow more.”

This year also sees teams and paddlers qualify for the world competition held in Tahiti this year, it's going to be a tough competition.