Jacinda Ardern not ruling out funding for schools to make paddling waka a sport

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she'd be keen to see paddling waka become a mainstream sport, and isn't ruling out more funding for schools to offer it as a sport.

She's shown renewed interest in waka in recent years and it is one of New Zealand's fastest-growing sports.

"There is power in waka," she said in Waitangi on Thursday.

"I have seen waka be used by some of our great masters as a way to impart deep knowledge."

Last year, she even had a go paddling waka, and her Government has spent more than $6 million trying to increase participation.

Next up could be funding for schools to make waka a common sport.

"Let's keep talking about how we can continue to foster it in New Zealand," she says.

"Would I like to see a lift in participation? Absolutely."

Kiwis Newshub spoke to are keen on that idea.

"If the kids want to do it, then they should have the choice," one says.

"Why not try something new. It's actually very good for physical work isn't it," another says.

Waka expert Stanley Conrad has been pivotal in waka's revival, and he would also like to see it become a mainstream sport.

"Yeah, it'd be great to have it a sport. Make it be recognised and we can look at it and say it was a tradition but now it's a sport."

And a new $4 million waka centre is being built just north of Waitangi thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund - it got final construction sign off last week. 

A bit of extra cash is all it'd take to bring waka mainstream.