Outrigger club blesses its newest canoe

Central Coast Outrigger Canoe Club based in Woy Woy has blessed its newest canoe, named Bungaree.
Club president Ms Virginia Westerson said the ceremony included an Acknowledgment of Country by Mingaletta elder Aunty Robyn, followed by a traditional Polynesian blessing performed by Mr Shane Bennett.
“The canoe was blessed with a Maori karakia, a cultural prayer that wishes safe future journeys on the water,” Ms Westerson said.
“It’s a simple ceremony, but quite emotional.”
She said the canoe was named in honour of the famous aboriginal explorer Bungaree, a community leader in the Broken Bay area.
Cultural significance was important for the club, Ms Westerson said.
An older canoe was named Daringyan, the aboriginal word for stingray, the totem of the local area and also the club’s logo.
A descendant of Bungaree, Ms Tracey Howie, thanked the club for the ceremony and cultural acknowledgment.
“Thank you all for the respect and acknowledgement shown to my ancestor Bungaree and to our mob as the Daringyan People of the Central Coast region,” Ms Howie said.
Ms Westerson said the club had adopted Polynesian terms ohana (family) and aloha (giving) within the club’s philosophy, as club members focused on helping each other and creating supportive environments out on the water.
The club has been paddling up Hawkesbury River and Brisbane Water for more than 20 years, with many members over the age of 50.
“We try and keep everyone healthy and active within the community,” Ms Westerson said.
“There are 19 members who are over 70 and paddle socially, as well as competing at regattas regularly.”
Members of the public could try the sport at open days.
The club offered a free six-week training course, teaching paddling techniques, safety and self-rescue lessons.
Ms Westerson said the new canoe would provide many hours of pleasure, bring opportunity and health benefits to the members.

Media release, 20 Aug 2020
Interview (Hayley McMahon), 20 Aug 2020
Virginia Westerson, Central Coast Outrigger Canoe Club