CRNZ Blog

National Volunteer Week

Author -  Karen Simpson

To coincide with National Volunteer Week we bring you the story of a one very devoted volunteer with the Canoe Racing NZ community who is making a real different in the Eastern Bay region.

National Volunteer Week

To coincide with National Volunteer Week we bring you the story of a one very devoted volunteer with the Canoe Racing NZ community who is making a real different in the Eastern Bay region.
2018_aniwa_and_gary_asia_pac.jpg

Gary Waller (third from left)

To coincide with National Volunteer Week we bring you the story of a one very devoted volunteer with the Canoe Racing NZ community who is making a real different in the Eastern Bay region.

Every club is only as strong as its volunteers and as the Eastern Bay Canoe Racing Club will attest, Gary Waller – the 2018 Canoe Racing New Zealand Volunteer of the Year – is worth his weight in gold.

Kids coach, maintenance repairman, event organiser and official there is very little the Ohope Beach-based volunteer does not do for the club or indeed the wider sport.

In fact, dozens of club members have benefited from his unstinting and selfless commitment for the club over the past eight years.

Born and raised “two streets away from the main runway at Heathrow Airport” in West London - Gary says it was his upbringing which formed his devotion to his extensive voluntary work.

“When I was growing up my parents couldn’t afford for me to do any sports,” he explains. “I didn’t have that opportunity but I feel every kid should have the opportunity to try different activities; that’s just how I see it.”

As an adult he started competing in sailing and he later progressed into coaching kids. He and his wife also spent a four-year stint in the US where he combined coaching sailing with swimming.

Twelve years ago he and his wife relocated to settle on Ohope Beach and keen to maintain his interest in coaching, Gary quickly became involved with the local surf club, where he led the junior swim programme.

His interest in kayaking was piqued eight years ago when his son, Tim, then aged 14, started out at the then fledgling Eastern Bay Canoe Racing Club. Keen to find out more about the sport, Gary, himself, learned how to paddle a K1 and so kick-started a new-found passion.

“I initially saw it as a challenge to paddle a K1,” explains Gary, who works for Whakatane Council in Parks and Reserves looking after the holiday parks and campsites.

“But I also quickly realised that there were only three or four kids involved with the club, so that is when I went on a coaching course, started taking a few groups out and took up the coaching reins of the junior programme.”

Thanks to Gary’s efforts - coupled with the inspirational achievements of Eastern Bay paddler and double Olympic champion Lisa Carrington - the club now boasts more than a dozen active junior paddlers.

Yet Gary’s firm commitment to the club does not end with his coaching duties. He is also regularly willing to carry out repairs on the club’s ageing boat fleet upgrading footplates and working on the fibreglass exteriors.

Meanwhile, the proud Eastern Bay club man last summer also launched a weekly social paddle sport series – of 5km, 10km and 15km races - which ran every Friday night from October to April.

A regular official at Canoe Racing New Zealand events – where Gary carries out a range of roles from starting, umpiring and boat control – he is also a qualified International Technical Official having sat his exams in China.

However, with no aspirations to officiate overseas, instead the 52-year-old prefers to spend his time on Whakatane River or Ohiwa Harbour simply trying to make a positive different with the youngsters he coaches.


“The biggest thrill I get is when I see the kids do well in competition and later grow and mature into all-round good people as adults,” he adds. “I have a passion for helping people; but I’m no different to many other people in kayaking who give up as much time as I do.”

Article: Steve Landells
National Volunteer Week

Post New Comment

Name *
Subscribe
Comment *
 

 

Latest News & Features

New Zealand challenge gathers momentum

New Zealand challenge gathers momentum

Kurtis Imrie (Mana) and Max Brown (Whanganui) took another significant step forward in their ...

Lisa’s magnificent seven

Lisa’s magnificent seven

Lisa Carrington claimed a magnificent seventh successive women’s K1 200m world title as the ...

Women’s K4 crew spearheads Kiwi assault

Women’s K4 crew spearheads Kiwi assault

New Zealand enjoyed a successful day two of the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World ...

 
 
© Copyright 2019 Canoe Racing New Zealand