Eastland Port backing local athletes

Eastland Port backing local athletes

Eastland Port is delighted to have announced six successful athletes of their water sports sponsorship fund.

Eastland Group Chief Operating Officer Regional Infrastructure Andrew Gaddum said, “We had 35 applications from the region and were thrilled to see a variety of sports represented, including kayaking, waka ama, sailing, surfing, surf lifesaving and swimming.

“As participants, coaches and spectators of water sports, our team are passionate about sponsoring local water-based activities. Port operations are either based on water or surrounded by it, so it’s a very fitting sponsorship,” added Mr Gaddum.

The port had initially planned to award five $1,000 sponsorships but Mr Gaddum said the calibre of applications was high so decided on six local athletes who are great role models for their sports and our region.

Recipients of the Eastland Port Water Sports Sponsorship Fund 2022 are;

Jordan Tuhaka – Waka ama

Kane Soto – Waka ama

Casey Dewes – Surfing

Maxwell Kennedy  – Kayak/Canoe Sprints

Jake Millar – Sailing

Lucy Millar – Sailing

Horouta Waka Hoe representatives Jordan Tuhaka and Kane Soto are the first Eastland Port Water Sports sponsorship winners to be representing waka ama.

Recently, both Jordan and Kane competed at the London IVF world sprints championships and took the podium for their respective divisions.

Mr Tuhaka said, “It’s an honour to receive this sponsorship as there were so many others that did so well during the worlds campaign this year.

“To me waka ama is more than competing, it’s about my connection to Taiao and how it helps my hinengaro, wairua, tinana and whanau.

Mr Soto says he is grateful for the water sports sponsorship as it will help pay for new equipment and help him reach his shared goal of continuing to be the champions for the J19 race.

“I love that I am doing a sport that my ancestors did and I really enjoy being on the water as it’s something the whole whanau can participate in.”

Hailing from Waipiro Bay Casey Dewes said, “Our isolation up the East Coast can be a barrier to access training and competitions especially with the rising cost of fuel. My aspirations are to inspire other children from the East Coast to give surfing a go. I think if our local kids can see that I can do it, then they will know that they can do it too.

Miss Dewes says she will use the sponsorship to purchase a warmer winter wetsuit and some high performance fins for her surfboard.

Local Kayaker Maxwell Kennedy said, “My goals are to continue developing my abilities and work my way up through the high-performance levels. Knowing that I have some funding and support from Eastland Port to get me to where I want to go is an awesome feeling, so I want to make the most out of it.

Mr Kennedy adds that kayaking helps him take time away from school and home life and develop as a person mentally and physically.

Another first for the Eastland Port Water Sports Sponsorship is having twins, Jake and Lucy Millar fly the sailing flag.

Lucy recently finished a close second in the female division of the Open Skiff national championships and third overall in the under-17-year mixed group.

“I feel very privileged to receive the sponsorship as it’s going to help me to continue improving my results on the NZ stage,” said Miss Millar.

Mr Millar said, “It feels great to have my efforts in sailing recognised by being selected, and I feel very privileged to have received a sponsorship.

“I will continue to sail to improve my skills and knowledge in the sport and aim to compete and succeed in larger events like North Island and National Championships, and potentially international events too.”

Mr Gaddum said the Eastland Port team are proud to get behind local rangatahi that are role models on and off the water.