From 5-15 May, two of the Taumutu whānau took on the world’s best at the 2016 International Va’a Federation World Waka Ama Sprint Championships on the Sunshine Coast in Australia – and came home with some great results.

Adrian Tukaki and Craig Pauling, along with Wairewa teammate Iaean Cranwell, and their crew Aoraki Matatū, competed in the Master 40 Men grade, bringing home one world championship title and two silver medals in their three team events, while Adrian also picked up a bronze medal in the Masters V1 (single) 500m race.

Their gold medal was won in the V12 (12 person) 500 metre event, by teaming up with South Auckland based crew Pineula and beating the reigning world champion Tahitian team by a nose. Their two silver medals were won in the V6 500m and 1000m races, just behind the champion Heelani team from Tahiti.

In doing so, Aoraki Matatū, from local club Te Waka Pounamu, confirmed their top national ranking and contributed to an outstanding result for the Aotearoa team, who topped the medal table for the first time, and also became the first country to ever beat the favourites Tahiti – winning a stunning 30 gold, 27 silver and 22 bronze medals across 77 events.

Another Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki paddler, Kiliona Tamati-Tupa’i (nō Ōtākou, te whānau Tamati-Elliffe/Ellison) also became a world champion, winning gold in the Junior 16 Men V12 500m event, and a silver in the J16 V6 500m event with his team from Waitakere in Auckland. Kiliona is a rising star and has a great future in the sport by winning his first world gold at the tender age of 13. Look out for more from this one.

Reflecting on the world champs, Craig Pauling says the trip was an outstanding achievement and extremely satisfying. “It was an amazing week and an absolutely outstanding ride for our team. We have come a long way over the last 15 plus years and it is great to now be able to call ourselves world champions. We are so thankful for all the support we have received from our whānau, as well as our hapū and iwi” says Craig.

Our team with our gold medals

Our team with our gold medals, Left to right: Adrian Tukaki, Iaean Cranwell, Ross Gilray, Todd Jago, Jack Wormald and Craig Pauling.

Action shot of our third turn – Craig at the back, Adrian is two seats in front and Iaean is in the left of the shot.

Action shot of our third turn – Craig at the back, Adrian is two seats in front and Iaean is in the left of the shot.