This is my first report as President of Hoe Tonga and I am pleased to report that during 2009/10 Hoe Tonga has seen progress and a number of achievements.
The quality of race organisation has continually improved over the last few years. Notably, in 2009/2010 Hoe Tonga races for the first time utilised computer technology used at the Waka Ama Nationals to run key races. Hoe Tonga has also invested in some key resources such as radios to run races more effectively. Of course there is still significant room for improvement and Hoe Tonga, with the help of paddlers and supporters, will need to work on those during 2010/11.
The number of regular races has also increased. The region now sees three regional events and championships organised by Hoe Tonga (W1, W6 and secondary schools), in addition to two regular series (with 6 six races each) organised by individuals, and at least one regular club event. This means that paddlers can now get on the water and compete at least once a month in the Hoe Tonga region. While the region is still lacking a major event in the summer months that draws in the top teams from the North, without more volunteers this situation is unlikely to change in the short term.
Many of you will have noticed higher registration fees at the regional W1 and W6 Sprints. Some view them as unfair but it is important to keep in mind that races are run on a cost recovery basis and fees are kept as low as possible. Junior paddlers continue to get subsidised through lower fees. Without race fees it is not possible to provide paddlers with the well-run events they deserve; and feedback from paddlers through various surveys suggest that paddlers would like the quality of races to improve further.
Hoe Tonga was the first region in New Zealand to embark on the process to develop a strategic plan so as to be clear where we want to go and how we are planning to get there. Its key objective is the growth and development of Waka Ama in the region. The strategic plan was adopted at the last AGM in 2009 and during 2009/10 we commenced its implementation.
As planned we have revised the constitution and improved the website (now updated at least weekly) to improve information provision. Hoe Tonga has also invested in better resources to improve the running of races.
Having said that, much work remains to be done and progress is relatively slow. For instance, work in the future will need to focus on key challenges such as
- enabling investment into equipment and volunteers (through increasing the financial resources available to Hoe Tonga), and
- better coordination of Waka Ama in secondary schools in the region.
As with many things, many hands make little work and I invite paddlers and supporters to assist in any way they can.
Hoe Tonga’s finances are in healthy state. However, Hoe Tonga’s income is still very limited (i.e. affiliation and race fees). Unfortunately there is no income yet from important funding sources such as sponsors or community funding organisations. This in turn limits our ability to fulfil our aspirations.
During next year and the years ahead it will be important to broaden the funding base. This in turn will enable us to consider investments in a number of areas, including administration support, support of high performance paddlers, regional development and coaching programmes and better equipment.
Many challenges remain but I am confident that together we can overcome them. I am looking forward to the next year.
Hoe Tonga Pacifica Waka Ama Association