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The songbird & the sea

Porina McLeod loves to see people happy and connected 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. Under her management, the company now offers stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) lessons, Waka Ama (outrigger canoe) and guided hikois (walks) of Mauao (Mount Maunganui).

“Our guides will tell the legend of Mauao, as well as the other stories that will give you a deeper appreciation.”

The coastal walk is one of the most popular short walks in New Zealand, and the mountain – Mauao – one of the areas iconic landmarks.

Throwing all her efforts into her business has meant saying goodbye to another passion however – a talented singer, Porina has been a musician for more than 25 years.

“I’ve had a good bout with music,” Porina said. “But after my voice changed, I had to find something to fill that void. The ocean has always been my go-to in tough times.”

Porina also runs a popular SUP club that undertakes trips throughout the year.

“We often excursions where anyone is welcome to come along. Some are overnight excursions to other areas where we meet tangata whenua (people of the land) and learn about their lands. We do a paddle and a hike under their guidance.”

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

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