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Updated at 1:15 pm on 14 August 2012
A Bay of Plenty tribe says there are striking similarities between a great ancestor and Whakatane's Olympic gold medal canoeist, Lisa Carrington.
Ngati Awa people say her win on the water reminds them of their female ancestor Wairaka, who 700 years ago saved a waka full of women by going against tradition and paddling a drifting canoe to land.
With all of the men already ashore, Wairaka said: Kia Whakatāne au i ahau - I will act like a man.
The tribe's deputy chair, Pouroto Ngaropo, says they are absolutely proud of Carrington for her ability, discipline, strength and natural talent.
He says she would have been aware of the Maori legend when she won.
Mr Ngaropo says Carrington's success has mirrored the strength, power and mana possessed by Wairaka - and that's why she's a champion and has won a gold medal for New Zealand.
Carrington descends from Ngati Porou and Te Atianga a Mahaki, but comes from Whakatane.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
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