Spirit of Kupe Trophies

Kupe Statue - Wellington Waterfront

Kupe Statue - Wellington Waterfront

NZ Paddler Series - Spirit of Kupe Trophies

NZ Paddler Series - Spirit of Kupe Trophies

The NZ Paddler Series trophies are based around the legend of Kupe - a great chief of Hawaiki (Tahiti), whose father was from Rarotonga, and whose mother was from Rangiatea.


We wanted to make some a bit different and special for the trophies for the NZ Paddler Series - the "design brief" was something that would celebrate the enjoyment we all get from being out on the water, racing hard and having a good time.

So the final trophies are based around Kupe the legendary Polynesian explorer who paddled from his home in Tahiti down to NZ and back up to Rarotonga.

A pretty mean feat considering carbon fiber and freeze dried food hadn't been invented yet!

The legend goes that a giant octopus that was eating all of the food and his people were starving so he set out to chase the octopus down and kill it.

He loaded up his canoe along with his wife, daughters, brother and his family and and took off on what turned out to be a mighty adventure with many encounters with sharks and the octopus before finally killing it at the top of the south island.

After this he continued his journey around NZ before returning to his fathers home in Rarotonga.

The Modern Day Kupe:

There are a lot of qualities Kupe had that are also prevalent in the modern day paddler.

New places, rivers and oceans:

Like Kupe we all love traveling to new places, meeting new people and paddling new stretches of water - and hopefully by promoting all the various races around the country the paddler series can help facilitate that.

Behind every good paddler is a good partner:

Kupe's wife joined him on the journey from Tahiti down to NZ and back, not many partners would go for a paddle like that. But most of us are pretty lucky to have a partner who supports their paddling endeavors - getting dropped off upwind or up river, listening to half hour post race analysis and planning family holidays around kayak races.

The Maori ceremonial paddles or hoe represent the women (the blade of the paddle) and the man (shaft of the paddle) working together to move their boat forward. 

Why do We Chase Octopus?

Some say the Octopus Kupe was chasing was the setting sun, the suns rays were the octopus tentacles and Kupe was chasing the setting sun to see what was over the horizon.

Some say Kupe's home land was over populated and he went searching for food for his family.

Some say living on a small island with the in-laws was getting on his nerves and he just needed to get out on the water for a while.

In a similar way we all paddle for different reasons: adventure, fortune or just to get away from lifes annoyances for a while. But at the end of our paddles we return home with some pretty good stories to tell, a smile on our face and some fond memories that we weave into our own legends.

The Carvings:

These hoe(paddles) were carved by Nathan Rei, a carver who lives in Titahi Bay which lies directly opposite Mana island - the full name of which is Te Mana o Kupe ki Aotearoa which translates to the awesome adventures Kupe had while paddling around New Zealand.

For more information about Kupe and the many landmarks around NZ which bare his name check out these websites: