The NZOIA/NZRCA Kayak Instructor Award Scheme

Overview of how the NZCA and NZOIA kayak instructor schemes were merged, and how specific qualifications have been affected. This article by Janette Kear originally appeared in New Zealand Canoeing 00.1, Autumn 2000.

The current joint Kayak Instructor certification scheme is a result of an agreement reached between New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association (NZOIA) and the NZCA, NZRCA's forerunner, in 1994. The scheme features three levels of instructor certification, the levels being Kayak Instructor Flatwater, Kayak Instructor Stage One (the level of chief interest to aspiring whitewater instructors) and Kayak Instructor Stage Two.

The scheme is administered by NZOIA. Anyone interested in having their kayak teaching skills assessed should contact NZOIA, PO Box 11-090, Manners Street, WELLINGTON 6034, or visit their website at Enquiries can also be directed to

At the time of amalgamation, both NZOIA and NZCA had instructor certification schemes featuring two levels of instructor certification. (Why a small country like NZ had two instructor certification schemes in a minority sport such as ours is one of those questions we now scratch our heads about. But it did. And lots of dedicated skilled people had put lots of hours into both those schemes. Often, in fact, they were even the same people; Mick Hopkinson, Steve Chapman, Ray Button... but that's another story.)

NZOIA's levels were felt to be at a slightly lower level than the NZCA's. The agreement was based on NZCA's standards becoming the accepted standard at Stage One and Two, with a new level of Flatwater Instructor created to cater for those whose work was mainly in this area.

Most NZOIA Stage One's upgraded to the new level, and many NZCA instructors joined NZOIA. Some instructors from both schemes decided not to remain involved. NZOIA Stage Two's not already cross-credited to the NZCA scheme had the opportunity to upgrade to the new standard, and NZRCA is continuing consultation with NZOIA to enable this to happen.

The pre-1994 NZCA Scheme also featured river safety courses designed to raise kayakers safety skills and awareness. The basic two day course is known as River Safety, and the more advanced course, River Rescue, is for paddlers who might need to know advanced rope work, boat extraction skills and how to avoid epics in remote areas. These courses continued to be administered by the NZRCA. To ensure the highest standards of skill teaching and safety, only current NZOIA Stage Two's can teach these courses (River Rescue Instructors must also have NZOIA Rock Two). See River & Safety Courses for contact details for River Safety and River Rescue Instructors, and information on how to apply for Water Safety New Zealand subsidy for a course. It's easy!

The old NZCA scheme also featured three levels of kayak proficiency on which paddlers could be tested. Kayak Test 1, 2 and 3 were designed to be used by clubs, schools and businesses in their teaching programmes. A River Racing Certificate, designed to assess the kayak skills of multisport athletes was also created to promote higher skill levels (and subsequently safety levels) in multisport events. Although technically still in existence, Kayak Test 1, 2, and 3 have not been promoted for some years due to lack of resources, and doubt as to their continuing usefulness. A similar situation exists with the River Racing Certificate. However, plans are underway to review and possibly replace this certificate with a more "user friendly" yet still relevant standard. If you have any ideas on this, or would like to be part of the review process, please contact