REGATTA AT NGARUAWAHIA
More than 14,000 people thronged the banks of the Waikato River last March to watch the 70th annual river carnival organised by the Ngaruawahia Regatta Association.
Two outstanding features of this year's regatta were the sudden, heartening revival of interest in the Maori canoe events and the high standard of performance reached in the exhibition haka.
Over the past 10 years interest in the canoe racing and hurdling seemed to have dwindled among local people and regatta organisers were afraid these traditional events might have to be dropped from the programme. But this year Mr B. Paki, an official in the Maori events section, said there were more competitors in these events than there had been for 20 years. “Why,” he said, “we didn't have enough paddles for all the competitors.”
One factor in the revival has been the interest shown in recent regattas by the Latter Day Saints' College, Tuhikaramea. This year the college team won the major event, the war canoe race, in Te Arohanui, an old craft, which for some years had been in a state of disrepair. The college borrowed it from the Regatta Association, repaired it, trained their crew in it, and then won the race.
The fine haka was also the result of college interest. Performing on a barge in mid-stream, the pupils put on a thrilling display, which officials praised and which the regatta secretary, Mr H. D. Sampson, described as the finest he had seen in 50 years.
Besides the Maori events, the large crowd saw speedboat races, national dancing and piping, sawing and chopping, water-skiing and rowing.