Waka ama – a whānau affair

Mighty River Domain site manager Liz Stolwyk with her sons Nathan and Curtis. Photo: Jeremy Smith

The week-long 2024 WakaAma Sprint Nationals at Lake Karāpiro will inject millions of dollars into the economy.

Accommodation providers district wide are reported to be “packed” as the event, which started on Sunday, progresses.

The event has attracted almost 3300 competitors – aged five to 83 – from more than 70 clubs.

About 12,000 spectators will be at Karāpiro watching.

Mighty River Domain site manager Liz Stolwyk said eftpos transaction data from Waipā in previous years showed the event contributes at least $6 million to the region’s economy.

She expects that figure to be higher this year.

A team of 12 is working across 16-hour days this week at the domain – and the event has almost 200 volunteers.

“This week, halls, marae, sports clubs and a wide range of accommodation providers are all fully booked – it’s fantastic opportunity for our district to be showcased and I hope we roll out the red carpet for the many thousands of visitors expected,” Stolwyk said.

Cambridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Bouzaid said the nationals give the town’s economy many “spin off benefits,” adding they were desperately needed after a quiet start to
2024 for the town’s retailers.

“They have definitely been doing it tough,” she said.

“We are of course delighted to host the waka ama nationals.

And, events like it generate income far wider than just the retail sector, which shouldn’t be under estimated.”

Waka Ama New Zealand CEO Lara Collins told The News waka ama is the fastest growing water sport in New Zealand and organisers love returning to Lake Karāpiro each year.

“Every year a huge amount of work is put in to organising the nationals, and there is simply nothing like seeing the subsequent sense of pure excitement and joy across the board as the nationals happen.”

Meanwhile, Stolwyk said she was delighted to see the facility at Mighty River Domain reaching its potential in terms of hosting events.

Waka Ama New Zealand CEO Lara Collins pictured at Lake Karāpiro this week. Photo: Jeremy Smith

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