A Blue Light Waka Adventure gave Canterbury and Nelson youth a very special three days exploring the stunning Abel Tasman.
But it wasn’t all sightseeing for the 23-strong group, who worked hard mentally and physically and learned a lot over the three-day trip.
The stunning Abel Tasman National Park provided the backdrop to the paddling adventure.
The waka trip was the idea of Senior Constable Craig Roberts who found himself with some thinking time while working in the managed isolation facilities when COVID was at its height.
“There was a bit of head space working in the hotels and I wanted to do something special for our youth," he says.
"Blue Light is all about working alongside young people to help improve relations between them, their families, communities and Police. A waka trip sounded like something that could tick all these boxes – and what better place than the Abel Tasman.”
It wasn’t long after, that Craig attended the Blue Light National AGM and met up with Senior Constable Dave Cogger from Nelson-Tasman Blue Light.
“We got chatting about a combined Canterbury/Nelson waka trip, and so it all morphed from there.”
With full support from the National Blue Light team, Craig and Dave got to work planning for the adventure. They enlisted the guidance of Todd and Lee-Anne Jago from Waka Abel Tasman to help with the planning and logistics.
“Waka Abel Tasman offered us a culture-based trip which integrated te ao Māori, tikanga, history and knowledge of the area.”
An evening lesson from Callum on Māori artifacts, tools and musical instruments rounds out the end of day two.
Although a lot of time was spent in the waka, learning how to work together as a team on the water, the team got to experience much more during their adventure.
“They explored idyllic golden sand beaches and remarkable rock formations, witnessed cheeky wildlife from seals and stingrays to octopuses - to the amazing flora and fauna of the coastal native bush - which was accompanied by beautiful bird song,” says Craig.
And of course pitching in to help with looking after the group along the way was everyone’s responsibility.
“All the youngsters got on well and chipped in with food preparation, cooking and cleaning up duties without any fuss.”
Craig says that everyone who went on the trip took away personal learnings and growth along with some great memories and new friendships.
“Many of the youth selected for this trip had little or no experience with paddling a waka. As you can see from the video (above), there is a lot more to it than simply getting in and paddling.
"They learnt a lot about themselves personally, mentally, and physically. They also soaked up the numerous cultural references that were shared along the way.”
Check out the video above for a look into the adventure and what the group had to say about it.
- On behalf of the group, Police would like to thank the supporters and sponsors who made this trip possible, including Blue Light, New Zealand Police, Kitchen Café New Brighton, Countdown New Brighton, Sanitarium, Environment Canterbury, Bunnings Nelson, MCG Marketing and Golden Bay Fruits. A special thanks to Waka Abel Tasman and their fine staff who accompanied the team - Callum and Thomas.