Following the conclusion of the Hoe Tonga Regional Sprint Champ Championship 2021, the Hoe Tonga Board was made aware of a claim that a paddler that was not fully vaccinated competed in one of the events.
In response, Hoe Tonga undertook an investigation into this matter, and it can be confirmed that such incident took place.
The Hoe Tonga Board deliberated on this matter, and notes the following:
- Hoe Tonga, as a condition of entry to our Regional Sprint Championship 2021, required paddlers to be double vaccinated (and such requirement is enabled under Hoe Tonga’s constitution, refer rule 6.1). Clubs, coaches and paddlers were made aware of this requirement through various race notices (eg website, social media posts) and also through an explicit statement in the event waiver form. This is in addition to nation-wide media coverage on the new traffic light system, and publicised mandatory vaccination requirements for events with more than 100 participants.
- As the mandatory vaccination requirement was very new, and had not yet been implemented at any other waka ama event, Hoe Tonga undertook its best efforts to give effect to the new requirement by requiring paddlers to show their vaccine passes when signing in, and receiving a wrist band that would be required to enter a designed event area. It is now clear that there were some shortcomings in Hoe Tonga’s processes and systems. Hoe Tonga is compiling lessons learnt from that experience, in order to improve on our future events.
- Hoe Tonga’s events are run largely on a trust-based approach, ie we do not have the resources to implement various checks that are in place at the National Waka Ama Sprint Championships to ensure compliance (eg ID checks via scanners at loading bay, etc). As a result, Hoe Tonga is able to run its events with significantly lower costs, albeit this does imply that we rely on clubs and paddlers to do the right thing, and to be aware of all relevant event requirements.
Under rule 6.1 of Hoe Tonga’s Constitution, the Board can impose sanctions and penalties in relation to someone acting contrary to Hoe Tonga’s rules and requirements, and Waka Ama New Zealand (WANZ) rules, requirements, and expectations (including the WANZ Code of Conduct).
The Hoe Tonga Board considers that the lack of full vaccination is a serious matter, and it has made the decision to suspend the affiliation, for one full year, of two people in relation to this incident. This means that they are unable to compete at waka ama events during that time, as participation requires paddlers to be affiliated. The affected club and paddlers have been notified of Hoe Tonga’s decision.