Rowing in New Zealand

This week many sports fans will be watching events as they unfold at the 2010 FISA World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro, Waikato. Competitive rowing came to New Zealand with British settlers, and the first local club was established in 1861. Sixteen of New Zealand’s 90 Olympic medals have been won by rowers, the same number as sailing and behind only athletics (20). Less well known is the golden age of professional sculling in the early 20th century. Three New Zealanders held the world title – the first to come to this country – for a total of six years. Vast crowds watched (and bet on) challenge races on the Whanganui River.

Karapiro hosted the rowing at the 1950 Empire Games regatta where more than 20,000 spectators watched just five races. The 2010 championships are not the first hosted by Karapiro with the 1978 world championships also staged there. 

Social studies teachers or junior history teachers looking for a break in their schedule might want to consider following this event for the week. If so find out more about the history of rowing in New Zealand here.

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