Heremaia Rosieur – Waka ama (outrigger canoes) | Faces of Auckland Sport and Recreation Volunteers
Waka ama (outrigger canoes) have been used in the Pacific for fishing and transport for centuries – but their use in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland for sport and recreation is a far more recent phenomenon.
The gleaming fibreglass craft used for competitive waka ama are an increasingly common sight on Auckland’s harbours nowadays, with the sport growing steadily in popularity since the 1980s.
That’s thanks to the efforts of people like Heremaia Rosieur, one of the many dedicated volunteers who’ve played a part in making the growth of waka ama a reality.
Heremaia has been volunteering in waka ama for than 15 years, with his current roles including Club Captain, President and Junior Coordinator for the Manukau Outriggers Canoe Association, and board member of the Auckland Region Outrigger Canoe Association (AROCA).
While waka ama caters for all ages, from 5-year-olds to gold masters, Heremaia focuses a lot of his energy on nurturing young paddlers, and promoting the sport's positive impact on individuals and communities.
“For me, being involved in juniors is my biggest volunteer role,” says Heremaia. “We need to get them through the grades so we have plenty of top-end adult paddlers. I help our own club, and other clubs and AROCA, to try to develop paddlers.”
After dabbling in waka ama in Northland, Heremaia became more hands-on as a volunteer after his daughter took up the sport when his family moved to Auckland.
“My daughter was nine at the time, and she's twenty-six now. Her younger sister was brought up on what we call ‘The Ramp’, where we train [in Mount Wellington]. My family all got involved in waka ama in one way or another: my wife is a volunteer manager too, so it's been a natural progression for us.
Waka ama is growing in popularity in Auckland schools, with a number using The Ramp at the Nga Hau Maiangi base in Mt Wellington – a training facility shared by the Manukau Outriggers, Cook Island Outriggers, Te Paerangi and Pakuranga clubs.
Heremaia believes waka ama can teach kids a lot: “Waka ama teaches discipline. We have some kids who come from quite tough backgrounds, but you see them change [through getting involved in waka ama]. It teaches them how to take responsibility and how to share it, and how to be part of a team and how to lead.”
For anyone looking for a sport to volunteer in, Heremaia says waka ama should be top of the list.
“If you want something that's going to change your life, volunteering in waka ama is the one for you and your family. If you want to walk a different path for a while, and be part of a journey that will teach you different things, then you should be a part of waka ama. It’s a chance to be part of something really awesome.”
The journey of volunteering is one that Heremaia says has “ups and downs, and highs and lows. It can bring you to tears at times, but the joy that it can bring you - there's nothing like it… The biggest thanks I can get is to watch the kids achieve. That's my ultimate volunteering goal.”