After eighteen months of planning and fundraising, twenty six students three staff and two families made the trip to Tahiti to compete in an annual Va’a (Waka Ama) competition. The competition is known as the Heiva. It is Tahiti and its surrounding islands annual sporting and cultural competition. The Heiva has been running for 132 years and 2014 also doubled as the 30th anniversary of independence for Tahiti from France. The Heiva is run over a six week period and consists of song and dance competitions, traditional games and competitions such as rock lifting and balancing, soccer and more importantly to Kaipara College, Va’a.
The Va’a component of the event was contested over two weekends. The first weekend was the V3 and V6 event. The U16 category competed over a 2600m course, while the U19 and open ages competed over a 3400m course. Highlights from the day were the Kaipara College U16 girls finishing second . The U16 girls V3 finished 5th and 10th and the U19 girls V3 finished 5th and 9th. The College U19 girls combined for the V6 event and finished 4th . While the U19 boys were competitive their results were not as good as the girls. The U19 boys V6 finished 13th and 14th and the three V3 teams finishing 27th, 28th and 29th.
The following day the V1 and V16 events were contested. Our girls combined with some local Tahitian girls to form a U16 team to compete in the open women’s category. They finished a creditable 7th The remainder of the day consisted of individuals competing in the V1 category, with the U16 girls Sophie Fisher and Carissa Mansell-Sawyers finishing 10th and 12th and Tara Mansell-Sawyers finishing 14th in the U19 girls. The U19 boys, Billy Bowman, Jarel Hemehema and Ryan Cooper finished 66th, 71st and 73rd. Boy the competition was tough!
The following weekend the marathon events were held. All junior boys and women were to compete together on Friday July 4th on a 21 km course, starting and finishing from Papeete. Both Kaipara College boys and girls teams finished with the same placing; 9th and 10th.
For all students and staff involved there were many highlights and lessons learned. Many of the girls learnt how to weave plants to make cultural uniforms as well as dance. Everyone involved learnt some French and Tahitian language as the trip progressed. And most importantly there was lots learnt about Waka Ama.
A clear highlight of the trip was the last day trip out to Moorea Island where we got to swim with the sharks and stingrays.