Engineering Waka Ama team off to Hawaii

An incredible day out on the water for our University crews.

Back in March, the Faculty of Engineering waka ama paddlers took out the University of Auckland Great Waka Ama race, earning the opportunity to compete in the Queen Lili’uokalani race in Hawaii.

Finally, after months of training, the team will depart New Zealand on Tuesday 30 August to compete in the Queen Lili'uokalani Race over the weekend of Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September.

The Engineering students that will represent the University over in Hawaii are Billy Bowman, Cara Berghan, Dallas Watene, Georgia Naera, Josie Stevens, Nona Taute-Hohepa, Shantelle Peters and Te Wera Hauraki Mihaere.

Second year Chemical/Materials Engineering student, Billy, says that he is excited to represent the University in the world’s largest long distance outrigger canoe race.

“I'm stoked to be part of the crew that gets to represent the University in Hawaii. The Queen Lili’uokalani canoe race is one of the world’s largest waka ama races and will be a great experience. It will be great to take our ‘A’ game there and once again put the University on the waka ama map. We’re already making great progress.”

For most of the paddlers it will be their first time travelling to Hawaii. When asked about what it is that they are looking forward to most about their upcoming trip, Georgia mentioned not only the excitement to travel to such a beautiful country but also the opportunity to immerse themselves in the strong cultural ties that Hawaii has with waka ama.

“I am looking forward to paddling in Hawaii because I have wanted to go to Hawaii since I was a little kid. Over the past few years I could have only dreamed of paddling in Hawaii. Waka ama is a very cultural sport to Hawaiians, much like us, and I have always wanted to experience the sport the way they do.”

Second year Electrical Engineering student, Shan, realises after having competed in Wales for the New Zealand Universities sevens team that there is more to these opportunities than just competing, as she hopes to create many great memories to get her through the remainder of the semester.

“What I hope to get out of this experience is an unforgettable time and super nostalgic memories that'll keep me going, especially for when we get back to the University and the workload that will be waiting upon our arrival.”

By winning the Great Waka Ama Race 2016, the Engineering team won an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii and the opportunity to compete in the Queen Lili'uokalani Race. To stay in the loop in the lead-up to the big race in Hawaii, follow our University of Auckland Sport Facebook page.

Engineering Faculty Waka paddlers travelling to Hawaii


Shantelle Peters
Electrical Engineering.



Billy Bowman



Te Wera Hauraki Mihaere
Civil Engineering.



Josie Stevens
Civil Engineering.



Georgia Naera
Faculty of Engineering.



Nona Taute Hohepa
Civil Engineering.



Dallas Watene
Computer Systems.



Cara Berghan
Electrical & Electronics.


Winning University of Auckland Waka Ama team.
Winning University of Auckland Waka Ama team. Back row left to right: Dylan Taute, Georgia Naera, Te Wera Hauraki Mihaere, Dallas Watene, Billy Bowman Front row left to right: Josie Stevens, Cara Berghan, Shantelle Peters, and coach.
Four of the six team members ran a return eight kilometres to the summit of Rangitoto Island.
Te Wera Hauraki Mihaere, Dylan Taute and Billy Bowman leaving the summit of Rangitoto Island.

Waka Ama Training for Hawaii

Winning University of Auckland Waka Ama team.
Winning University of Auckland Waka Ama team. From left to right: Coach Leki, Dylan Taute, Te Wera Hauraki Mihaere, Cara Berghan, Josie Stevens, Dallas Watene, and Georgia Naera, (Not pictured: Billy Bowman and Shantelle Peters)

The gruelling University race saw five teams paddle five kilometres from Takapuna Beach to Rangitoto Island. Four of the six team members ran a return eight kilometres to the summit before paddling back to Takapuna Beach.

After landing on Rangitoto Island in third place, the Engineering crew was neck and neck with the Science and Law teams on the summit run. Science reached the summit first but had separated along the track, while Engineering and Law both managed to stay together.

Director of Sport, Louis Rattray, comments on the close competition between the teams. “It was great to see a hard fought race between the Engineering, Science and Law faculties. Engineering, however, deserved the win with an impressive homeward paddle. I know they will do the University proud when they compete in Hawaii in September.”

Finishing the race in just over one hour and 42 minutes, the Engineering crew led second-placed Science by only two minutes, with Law and Ngā Tauira Māori also finishing within six minutes of the winning time. Education and Social work took fifth spot after a tough race and an unfortunate capsize on the paddle home.

The Engineering crew now has six months to prepare for their next test – an 18-mile open-water paddle against crews from around the world in Kona, Hawaii.