Waka Ama champion visits Nayland


Tupuria King spent the day at Nayland College last week to work with the Institute of Sport classes and to be interviewed prior to the Matariki Celebration Evening.

The King family continues to be regarded as the first whānau of waka ama. Tupuira is the son of Dave and Nyree King from Taipa, both waka ama stalwarts. His entire family has been actively involved in waka ama for many years with sisters Rosie and Riana receiving many awards in their own right.

Although the physical demands and competitive challenges of waka ama keep him motivated, it’s also the sports ability to create strong social bonds that makes it fun for Tupuria. A graduate of Kaitaia College, he was introduced to waka ama at the age of seven by his father and believes that it’s more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

He has now been involved in the sport for 16 years, nationally and internationally, and has travelled to Tahiti, Hawaii, Rarotonga, California, New Caledonia, Australia and Brazil to compete. Although he excels in the sprint events, Tupu believes his specialty lies in the long-distance races from 28km or more which are usually held in Tahiti.

Tupuria has been competing in Tahiti for four years where he has paddled for one of the island states’s most popular teams, Paddling Connection. Through his experience of Tahiti, he has gained a body of knowledge and been able to apply it to himself and other paddlers from New Zealand. Tupuria has graduated from the University of Waikato with a degree in sport and leisure studies and is now undertaking a Master’s degree in sport, health and human performance studies with the hope of focusing his research on the physiology of waka ama. 

Over the last nine months Tupuria has taken up the sport of canoeing with the aim to compete in the sport in the next Olympics. He has already gained a National title alongside his sprint and long- distance titles in Waka Ama.

Deputy Principal Jane Townsend contacted Tupuria after she signed up for a coaching course he was running in Nelson. Tupu agreed to extend his stay and be our guest speaker for the Matariki Celebration Awards and spend some time with the Institute of Sport classes.

Unfortunately for Nayland College, Tupu was called back to Tauranga to accept the Olympic Fern on behalf of his partner, Seven’s superstar Tyla Nathan – Wong. However, Canon Hedley and Maggie Goomes managed to interview him between classes. 

Tupuria King interview#3 29 June 2021 NayColOfficial

Tupuria King interview #4 29 June 2021 NayColOfficial

Tupuria spent time with both the Year 9 and 10 Institute of Sport classes, and shared his sporting and academic journey, and the wonderful opportunities that the lifestyle and sport of Waka Ama provides. He also took both classes for fitness training and explained the importance it is to be fit on and off the water.

Image by: Nayland College

Tupu thoroughly enjoyed his time at Nayland College and plans to come back and visit again in November. In the meantime, if any of our students want to give the sport of Waka ama a go over the holidays, please refer to the Te Tai o Aorere Flyer later in the newsletter.  

Image by: Nayland College

By Jane Townsend