Five Islands Outrigger Canoe Club History
Outrigger canoe racing is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hamilton Island regatta, Australia's longest running outrigger canoe regatta. The NSW Outrigger Canoe Association was formed in 1995.
Illawarra's only outrigger canoe club was incorporated in 2002. Five Islands Outrigger Canoe Club grew out of an association between a Fairy Meadow based Maori cultural group "Nga Hau E Wha" and experienced Sydney outrigger canoe paddler, Brett Rice.
Nga Hau E Wha" literally translates as "the people of the four winds". This inclusive phrase is often heard used during traditional Maori welcomes to describe those people of other tribes, or even cultures, who may not have a traditional connection to the land which they are standing on.
Central to the cultures of all the Pacific peoples is the concept of what Maori call whanau and the Hawaiians ohana. In English we call it the extended family.
From the Clubs inception this kaupapa (purpose) and all it entails has been Five Islands guiding principle. This collective vision not only encourages family groups to participate as paddlers within the club, it also encourages all paddlers within the Club to see each other as members of one large extended family.
Tu August designed the Club’s dynamic logo and collated the constitution for forwarding to the Office of Fair Trade.
The Clubs first canoe purchase was made possible through the generosity of Wollongong scaffolding business B-TAK who advanced the Club enough money to fund the purchase of our first canoe.
Rob and Letty of the Cringila Hotel were keen supporters of the Club and regular raffles and fundraising events were conducted there over the next few years to repay the loan for the first boat. An ever growing membership base however, meant that more canoes were soon needed.
Word of some unused canoes in the Coffs Harbour area reached Wollongong. The Cringila Hotel sponsored the purchase of two of these and they were duly recovered from their cow paddock resting place. One of these canoes "the Dugong" was from the first ever shipment of outrigger canoes to Australia. The long term loan of another six person canoe from a South Coast resident took the Clubs flotilla to four.
In 2005, Five Islands hosted their first State OC6 regatta at Belmore Basin. With a welcoming ceremony featuring Maori and Pacific Island dance and music on a specially built stage, it was a truly memorable event for the hundreds of paddlers from other clubs who witnessed it.
Under the gentlemanly guidance of long serving President and social paddling coach, Milton Stoyles, the Club’s membership has grown to around 70 paddlers.
During peak paddling season, the Club has a maximum of six canoes on the beach at Belmore Basin and the remainder stored in the clubhouse on Lake Illawarra.