Ngakau Toa Vaka junior paddlers are set to compete in their first Vaka Eiva.
Ngakau Toa club junior coach Vaea Melvin says they have been aiming to have a junior division for this year’s junior vaka racing revival and it’s finally happening.
Children between 11 and 13 years old have been training hard in one of the Cook Islands most recognised sports, oe vaka.
“These children are the future of the paddling,” says Melvin.
About 30 children attended the Ngakau Toa junior open day in April; now they have been narrowed down to a small committed team.
Junior paddler Metua Ani-Raea-Araitia says: “I’m very nervous but I’m also very excited, it will be my first time paddling in the Vaka Eiva,”
She’s been training really hard for over five months and the pressure is on for the juniors.
“I don’t want to disappoint my parents,” she says.
Some of the junior paddlers aspire to their own carbon fibre paddles – but they have all received their Ngakau Toa uniforms so they are competition ready.
Junior paddler Laura Lewis says she has been focusing on keeping in time with the person in front of her always following number one at the front of the vaka.
“That’s important,” says Lewis.
“You also need strength so you can push the vaka forward and to use your core not your arms.”