Helping locals find their ocean spirit

Mauao SUP Club paddle at Lake McLaren. Supplied image.

Porina McLeod is thrilled to be back on the water.


As a tour guide operator and owner of East Coast Paddler, Porina says the company has been telling stories and introducing locals and visitors to ocean sports for more than a decade.


She says people often comment on how connected they feel to the area after spending time on the water.


“People who are new to the area, or even the country, are looking to find their place here. Once they have a bit more understanding about the area, they find the connection.”


After working for East Coast Paddler for four years, Porina took over the business in 2016. In addition to the stand-up paddle boarding lessons, Porina has added guided hikoi (walks) of Mauao.


“Everyone should know the legend of Mauao, but there are so many other stories that will give you a deeper appreciation.”


Throwing all her efforts into her business has meant saying goodbye to another passion however – a talented singer, Porina has performed at events like Tarnished Frocks & Divas for more than 25 years.


“I’ve had a good bout with music,” Porina says. “But after my voice changed, I had to find something to fill that void. The toughest thing was trying to figure out why that gift had been taken from me. But the ocean is such a healing space; it has always been my go-to in tough times.”


Under alert level 2, East Coast Paddler can offer guided hikoi and Waka Ama (outrigger canoe) and SUP lessons to small groups. Porina is also working to offer team building experiences soon.


“We’d love to get more people started now that we’re out of lockdown. You don’t need to be fit or coordinated; we’ll work with what you bring.”


Vouchers that were sold during lockdown can now be redeemed and the 2 for 1 SUP lesson deal is still on offer.


Porina is excited about the prospect of sharing her love of the ocean with more locals and says now is the perfect time to connect to the area in a deeper way.


“I try to incorporate as much culture as I can and that adds to the connectedness.”


“There are people who join our Mauao SUP club specially to find their place and I’m like their guide. It’s the same thing I had with music – helping people to feel happy and connected.”


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