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For Disabled People

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PaddleAble is all about developing an inclusive paddling community and growing the number of disabled people participating in paddling for fun, wellbeing and competition.

What is Paddleable?

PaddleAble is a brand, signifying a paddling club/provider or event can successfully cater to disabled people and deliver positive paddling opportunities. The PaddleAble Commitment is made by clubs, paddling providers and events with Canoe Racing NZ.

The PaddleAble framework guides and supports paddling clubs/providers to be able to offer and deliver quality and equitable paddling opportunities to disabled people, through provision of education, resources, systems and equipment. It aligns with and supplements the Try Learn Explore paddling programme.




1,100,000 or 24% of New Zealand adults identify as disabled.

95,000 or 11% New Zealand children under the age of 15 identify as disabled.

We believe our sport is a sport for every body and we want all kiwis to be able to experience paddling.

Paddlesports can be an activity where disabled people will be able to participate alongside their able-bodied peers, and when on the water there is the potential for disability to disappear.

 Benefits of paddling include:

  • Rediscovering one’s own ability and independence

  • Physical benefits of improving muscle function and movement, or alternatively the reducing the level of decline in muscle deterioration.

  • Opportunity for increased skill development

  • Increase social interaction and develop lifelong friendships 

  • Develop a community of like-minded individuals

  • Feeling of freedom, connection to the environment and equality

  • Develop self-esteem and confidence 

The PADDLEABLE Commitment


The PaddleAble Commitment signals that the paddling organisation has and is taking steps/actions to ensure they can cater for, and provide positive paddling opportunities to disabled participants.  

Clubs, providers and events that make the PaddleAble Commitment:

  • Made a commitment to being disability inclusive

  • Adopted an inclusive approach and culture

  • Will cater for and provide opportunities for disabled people

  • Will modify paddling equipment and adapt activity to support paddlers with a range of disabilities

  • Ensured coaches receive disability inclusive training

  • Assessed and made a commitment to enhance club facilities to support disabled paddlers

  • Developed systems to support disabled paddlers

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I’m living with a IMPAIRMENT, how do I get involved?

We are currently working with clubs/organisations around NZ to set them up as a PaddleAble provider.
In the meantime, if you want to go paddling register your interest here or contact Aaron at Canoe Racing NZ with your details.


I have an impairment, do you have suitable equipment for me to use?

Your local PaddleAble provider will have appropriate  paddling craft, paddles and adaptive equipment to cater for a range of impairments to get most people on the water safely and enjoyably. The best thing would be to talk to your local PaddleAble provider and discuss with them your specific needs so they, with the support of CRNZ, can get equipped or adapt to suit you.

I have an impairment, can I go paddling?
PaddleAble providers are able to cater to a range of physical, sensory and cognitive impairments. Coaches have been trained to understand how to modify and adapt equipment and activities if need be, to suit all   They understand that each individual's impairment and it's impact can be different. PaddleAble providers will work with individuals to understand your needs and abilities to ensure you are supported and catered for as necessary. Contact your local provider to discuss how they can get you on the water.

I have an impairment, can I compete and race?

Paracanoe is the paddling discipline for participants of all ages who are living with an impairment. In New Zealand, any disabled person can race in the para canoe categories. 

International Canoe Federation and Paralympic Events are open to athletes with a physical impairment and race over 200m in two types of boats, Kayak (K) and Va’a (V) (known as waka ama/outrigger canoe in NZ). In order to compete at these international events, paddlers must be classified into three different classes within the two disciplines, based on the level of impairment: KL1, KL2, KL3 or VL1, VL2, VL3.

For further information, check out the CRNZ Paracanoe webpage.

How was PaddleAble developed?

Through support from Sport NZ Disability Inclusion Fund, Canoe Racing NZ has worked closely with the following organisations to develop resources, programmes and systems to support the inclusion of more disabled kiwis in paddling: Halberg Foundation, Blind Sport New Zealand, Parafed Auckland, Paralympics New Zealand, Aktive, North Shore Canoe Club, Hawkes Bay Canoe Club, Arawa Canoe Club.

We are a paddling club, organisation or event – how can we make the PaddleAble commitment?
We would love to help get your club, organisation or event become PaddleAble endorsed. Contact Aaron at Canoe Racing NZ for more information and support available.

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