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Hawaiki Nui Vaa, an extraordinary sporting event

Hawaiki Nui Vaa, an extraordinary sporting event

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Date de publication : 27/01/2024


Here, va’a (Polynesian pirogue) is the national sport! Every year, in October or November, the famous Hawaiki Nui Va’a race takes place. 

This is a major sporting event in Polynesia, bringing together the best rowers.

Over a hundred crews take part in the competition, including youngsters, seniors and veterans, both men and women.
The va’a used for this race are six-seater outrigger dugouts that ply the high seas and the ocean.
in the lagoon, 128 kilometers divided into three stages, between the Leeward Islands: Huahine,
Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora. The stages are completed without changing teams.

Dates: late October, early November 2024

To find out the dates of the next competition  : –

Preparations for the Hawaiki Nui Va’a begin months in advance. The teams train intensively, perfecting their rowing techniques and building up their endurance. The pirogues, carefully crafted by local artisans, are equipped to withstand the sometimes capricious conditions of the ocean.

Competition stages

The first leg of the race starts on the island of Huahine, offering an impressive spectacle as the pirogues set off at sunrise. Teams are vying to dominate this first portion of the competition, looking to establish an early lead.

The second stage takes rowers across the waters between Raiatea and Tahaa. These islands, renowned for their natural beauty, provide a picturesque backdrop along the way. Teams battle not only their competitors, but also the elements, such as the sometimes tumultuous waves and fickle winds.

The last leg, perhaps the most eagerly awaited, takes the va’a to Bora Bora, one of French Polynesia’s most emblematic destinations. The pirogues begin their final push with the majestic silhouette of Mount Otemanu in the background, creating an epic tableau that will remain etched in the memory of spectators.

A cultural event

Over the years, Hawaiki Nui Va’a has become much more than just a sporting event. It’s a cultural event that brings the Polynesian community together, highlighting the importance of va’a in the region’s history and identity. Spectators gather on the beaches and quays to cheer on the teams, creating an electric atmosphere charged with enthusiasm and pride.

The Hawaiki Nui Va’a is also an opportunity for visitors to discover Polynesian passion and hospitality. The festivities surrounding the event include traditional dances, hearty feasts and celebrations that last long after the last pirogue has crossed the finish line.

The Hawaiki Nui Va’a is much more than just a sporting competition; it’s a testament to the cultural richness and determination of the people of French Polynesia. Every paddle stroke is a tribute to ancient traditions, creating a timeless link between the Polynesian people and the ocean that has shaped their history.