HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5mins with Vaka Ngakau Toa

There is a fine art to mounting and dismounting an outrigger canoe properly, clearly I missed that part of the tutorial as I bailed into the shallows of the water, rather ungraciously I was reminded, in front of a number of curious bystanders who like me had wondered to Muri beach on Saturday afternoon to check out the open fun day of the Vaka Ngakau Toa outrigger canoe club. Lacing the Muri lagoon were three canoes in which willing participants could grab a paddle and after a quick tutorial from the members on correct paddle handling technique, whisk across the water with them to get a firsthand feel of paddling like a pro for five minutes.
Leaning towards a larger membership size Ngakau Toa is one of the three competing vaka clubs in the Cook Islands comprising of your standard women’s, men’s, mixed and masters teams which was established in 1996 by Fletcher Melvin, Joshua Mitchell and Mark and Tony Sherwin and has stayed true to their club principle “no one left behind.” Over the past 16 years NVT has grown vastly in recruitment, and skill with many existing members representing the Cook Islands in the national squad the club achievements list amongst taking out the Open Men’s Division Vaka Eiva 2007, winning gold in the Mini Games in Palau making this event as a Cook Islands first, including strong representation for the women’s front in the recent South Pacific Games, Noumea winning silver and first place in the 18km Vaka Eiva race.
I like to think of myself as being pretty game and down to try anything at least once, and seeing as I’m assured more or less as soon as I arrive from the animated members that I’ll be paddling in at least one of the canoes before the day is out I remind myself that it is a club open day after all, and this kind of stuff is what I’m all about. Getting anxious about getting wet I decided to jump in as fifth seat with four other participants and we wadded across the water at a leisurely pace where my beachside tutorial become nonexistent. Luckily for me I had the aid of skilled VNT member Tara Cummings advice constantly guiding my every unsynchronized stroke reminding me to “keep in time with number three.” The day continued much in the same fashion canoes came in, new sea farers grab a paddle and jump aboard, and canoes go out, until of course the VNT crew decided to execute their competitive muscle by making fast work of zipping from one motu to the next in a race between members. Blink and you would have missed their paddles slicing through the water as the three canoes raced toward the island where linesmen were waiting for the first member to race up the sand to reach them and slam down a can of drink as fast as possible, but I’m gathering with the speed they raced, and finished those drinks the VNT Crew, their no rookies.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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