Update from CE Tom Ashley- 2022 Wrap Up

As the year draws to an end it is a good time to reflect on 2022 and some of the achievements, progress and milestones of this year.

2022 has been both busy and successful – the lockdowns and traffic light system of last summer seem an eternity ago. Our clubs and events in full swing and our performance teams enjoyed a great year of international competition. We also welcomed two new affiliated clubs this year- Nelson Surfski Club and Eastside Paddlers in Christchurch.


Our domestic racing year was headlined by the selection battle between Lisa Carrington and Aimee Fisher, which attracted the attention of the whole country and kayaking world – it was amazing to see the amount of interest generated by the racing between these two amazing athletes and we were privileged to be able to witness such close, high-level racing in New Zealand as well as the sportsmanship shown between Lisa and Aimee.

A big highlight of this year was the ability to send full teams away for World Cups, World Champs, Junior/U23 Worlds and the Asia Pacific Sprint Cup. Lisa Carrington continued her amazing run of World titles with gold in the K1 200m and K1 500m at World Champs and Scott Martlew won a bronze medal in the KL2 200m. At World Cups, Alicia Hoskin, Olivia Brett and Tara Vaughan became NZ’s newest senior medalists. We have some very promising young talent emerging in the age group ranks and it will be exciting to watch these paddlers develop over the next few years.

Danielle McKenzie won a silver medal at World Ocean Ski Champs, backing up her 2019 win and continuing NZ’s tradition as home to the World’s leading female surfski paddlers.

CRNZ has put a lot of effort into Coach Development this year and this will continue to be a key focus. There have been at least 28 Coach Development workshops (both in person and online) facilitated by CRNZ and available to kayaking coaches across the country throughout the year.

Participation and Engagement

Supporting clubs to develop capability and capacity is a key strategy for CRNZ. The CRNZ team have been working closely with many CRNZ clubs throughout the year to support development of their systems and programmes, particularly in the junior paddlers space through the implementation of Try Learn Explore and Kahawai. The Club Conference in September was focused on working with clubs to set visions and strategies. It has been great to see a few clubs go away from that and work on setting new strategies and we look forward to seeing the product of this effort over the coming years.

Half way through the year we were successful in securing Disability Inclusion Funding to help us become a more inclusive sport. We have a vision of an inclusive paddling community where disabled paddlers of all abilities can participate alongside their non-disabled peers, both recreationally and at events. So far the focus has been on developing and piloting PaddleAble, a framework and endorsement to guide coaches, clubs, paddling providers and events on the steps/actions they can take to ensure they can cater for, and provide positive paddling opportunities to disabled participants. As part of this learning phase, we have run over 30 paddling sessions for disabled participants, and we look for to seeing more disabled paddlers at clubs and events in 2023, as we begin to support and educate clubs and coaches towards becoming more inclusive.

On the events side, as we emerged from the lockdowns of late-2021, our clubs were getting back to full activity and events started to get back underway early this year. We still faced restrictions on event numbers for awhile which saw events shuffled around. Event organisers from all over the country did a great job making as many events happen safely as possible. 2022 saw the first Summer Super Sprint regatta run in the South Island. A number of North Island paddlers made the trip South and we heard great things about this newest event on the calendar. We were delighted that Sprint Nationals went ahead without restrictions. Finally, a real highlight this year was Aims Games, which attracted over 80 intermediate school paddlers to participate in the new Kahawai event at Pilot Bay.

Looking forward, we plan to provide regular Club Capability development opportunities for clubs in 2023, so keep an eye out for this in the new year. In 2023 we plan to invest effort into growing the non-sprint disciplines through the continued development of Darcy Price series, a refresh of the 10km flatwater series and a focus on the marathon paddling scene- stay tuned.

Final words

I will close by expressing my appreciation for a few key people. The CRNZ staff have done a fantastic job this year (as always). The whole team is passionate and committed about doing their best for the sport and it is a privilege for me to work with such great people. Our Board provide valuable guidance – they give their time to the sport as volunteers and commit an amazing amount of time and energy to our organisation. Lastly, thank you to all of the volunteers at our events and clubs who turn up to support others and provide the best possible environment for paddlers to enjoy our sport.

Finally, a personal note: I will be moving on from CRNZ in May 2023 to pursue a new career. I’m grateful for the time I have spent at CRNZ working with some outstanding people, and for the Board and staff’s support over the last five years. I’ve learned heaps. I have agreed with the Board and with our team that I may stay involved in some capacity (if I can be at all helpful!) beyond May and I’m committed to helping make the transition to a new CEO as smooth and successful as possible. The CE role will be advertised in the new year, and I’m confident that we will get some excellent applicants who are keen to work with our outstanding team, supporting and developing an awesome sport.

From myself and the CRNZ team, we wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday period and we look forward to seeing you on the water in 2023.

Happy Paddling,