Love sparkles across the waves

Friday November 22, 2019 Written by Published in Paddling
Vaka captain Emilene Taulu with Tupuna Amo , down on bended knee to propose. 19071402 vert /19071403 hori Vaka captain Emilene Taulu with Tupuna Amo , down on bended knee to propose. 19071402 vert /19071403 hori

There’s a reason Oe Vaka is so significant for local paddler Tupuna Amo – it’s where he met the love of his life, Emilene Taulu.


Amo will be among the competitive individual paddlers lining up for the Vaka Eiva singles championships.

He has always paddled for Ngakau Toa and, through a shared passion for the sport, he met Taulu who paddles for Ngakau Toa’s rival team, Te Tupu O Te Manava.

Earlier this year Amo proposed to his partner Emilene Taulu at the Pacific Games in Samoa after she headed the V6 women’s marathon team. He went down on bended knee in front of the photographers of the international media, after Taula’s team had just claimed bronze.

None of Amo’s Vaka Eiva wins have been quite as rewarding as that!

Taulu says they still both paddle for opposing teams and while challenging each other in Vaka Eiva when they were both just junior paddlers, they fell in love.

Amo has been paddling since he was 16, after moving to Rarotonga from Tahiti. He moved here with his grandparents and found out he has ancestors from the island of Mauke.

“I think in paddling you learn a lot about the water,” says Amo. “When I was little I paddling and surfing and I just love being out on the water.”

He’s had a few encounters with some very big whales too. “It’s a bit scary sometimes because they pop right up in front of you and you have to try and get away without flipping or getting squashed.”

For the past few years, he’s been helping to coach the Ngakau Toa paddling club. “The goal this year is to try our best and see where we stand,” says Amo.

The Open Round Raro and Irons event will be the toughest and most competitive races.

Amo says it’s pretty funny when he shares his knowledge with older paddlers but otherwise when it comes to the races, it gets really serious.

He’s looking forward to win again this with his Ngakau Toa V6 team. A lot of long distance paddles have been the main focus of their training.

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