Aukaha is our Sport NZ funded Strengthen and Adapt Project that aims to strengthen the capability, capacity, and system of waka ama in Aotearoa at a regional and local level so that waka ama can continue to grow, thrive, and adapt.


Aukaha can mean many things, however for the purpose of this kaupapa we have identified Aukaha as the lashing (of a waka) – binding our sport. Each layer of lashing provides strength and corresponds to each section and layer of this project, resulting in Waka Ama being stronger, providing longevity and being better prepared for our journey ahead.

Consultation Process

The Aukaha Project Plan was developed after a thorough consultation process with our waka ama whānau. See the information below and attached a summary of the consultation process.

Sport New Zealand Strengthen and Adapt Programme
In May 2020, the New Zealand Government announced funding in the form of a Recovery Package to assist play, active recreation, and sport organisations to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Sport NZ has formulated an approach to assist a group of National Partners to make the best use of the Recovery Package, which includes a National Partner Strengthen and Adapt Programme. Waka Ama NZ has been chosen by Sport NZ to be part of this programme because of the impact our strategy is having on the physical activity outcomes of New Zealanders.

This is an exciting one-off opportunity to access additional funding to think beyond the status quo and explore and implement positive transformational changes that may not have been previously possible.

Project Information
Sport NZ has made it clear that the future of the sports sector will not be maximised if we simply replay the current approach. They want to see innovation. The disruption caused by COVID-19 has created a once in 30-year opportunity for organisations to rethink and reimagine their future.
Through this Strengthen and Adapt Programme, Waka Ama NZ aims to evolve our delivery, capacity, and capability to ensure that we can support the growth of Waka Ama in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Consultation Findings
Thank you to those clubs, paddlers, regions and whānau that took part in our recent Strengthen and Adapt Consultation. A huge mihi to Tracey Diack for facilitating this process m mid-January to mid-February 2022. The purpose of the consultation was for us to listen to our waka ama whānau and to understand the opportunities for, and barriers to, growth in a meaningful and sustainable way, with a focus on potential transformational changes to achieve the future we want. The attached information provides a brief summary of the consultation findings.

Consultation Process
Waka Ama NZ was required to submit a Strengthen and Adapt Plan. Sport NZ supported this by providing Ian Harre as an independent advisor and Tracey Diack as project manager. Our aim is to understand and implement a delivery model to achieve the Waka Ama NZ Strategic Plan, in particular, to ensure that we can support our growth in a meaningful and sustainable way whilst still providing quality waka ama experiences.
To achieve this plan, the following steps were taken:

  • Step One included consulting with the waka ama community as well as bringing all previous data and research together. From mid-January to mid-February 2022, the waka ama community had the opportunity to be part of a consultation process that included surveys and online forums. The aim was to thoroughly understand the current state of waka ama, the potential future state of waka ama, and to propose a small number of key areas within the waka ama delivery system that we could transform to support our growth.
  • Step Two involved exploring further the proposed key area of transformation including further targeted consultation before Waka Ama NZ submitted our plan to Sport NZ at the end of March 2022.
As part of the consultation process, we needed to understand what is working well and what could be improved to achieve the future we want. Consultations with our waka ama whānau included:
  • Regional entities survey
  • Online consultation with clubs from each region (online 90mins). Hosted by Waka Ama NZ and facilitated by Tracey Diack (project manager). The forum was an opportunity for us to listen to our members and to understand the opportunities for, and barriers to, growth in a meaningful and sustainable way. Tracey focussed the forum on the potential transformational changes and any discussion on current issues will be parked.
  • Focus group discussions with Te Reo Taohi (Waka Ama NZ Youth Advisory Group), and Te Tohu Whakarewa Tāngata (Waka Ama NZ Hall of Fame group)
  • Regional Sports Trusts consultation (to provide a view of the future opportunities for waka ama at a regional level)

Aukaha Project Plan

Waka Ama NZ was successfully selected by Sport NZ to receive funding as part of the Sport NZ Strengthen and Adapt Programme. The Strengthen and Adapt Programme was set up to improve the capacity, capability and resilience of selected national partners and their delivery networks, so that they are best positioned to meet the needs of participants and athletes into the future.

The Waka Ama NZ Aukaha Project Plan will be implemented over the next 3-5 years with the support of Sport NZ. The Aukaha Project aims to strengthen the capability and capacity of Waka Ama at a Regional and local level so that our sport can continue to grow, thrive and adapt. This project is built on four pou:

  • Capability, capacity, collaboration and structure
  • Stakeholder relationships
  • Promotion and advocacy
  • Systems and tools

Aukaha Project Manager

In August 2023, we employed our Aukaha Project Manager - Trevor Meiklejohn. Trevor brings with him a wealth of knowledge from the sporting sector and we are very excited to have him on board leading this project.

Project Updates

Regional Engagement

Engagement with the regions commenced in September 2023. The purpose of this engagement is firstly for the kaimahi of each regional entity to meet and engage with Trevor (Aukaha Project Manager) and secondly, to discuss the Aukaha Project Plan relevant to each region, including identifying ways to progress the project forward.

Te Puku o Te Ika - Hui

Tai Tokerau Polynesian Canoe Association - Hui

Auckland Region Outrigger Canoe Assn - Hui