Centuries-old waka kōkau discovered

By Raniera Harrison

Work continued at one of the region's largest archaeological finds this morning, as sediment was removed from the inside of what is believed to be a 'waka kōkau,' or incomplete vessel at Ōkahu Inlet, north of Auckland.

"It's sad for us that this waka had to be uncovered, its sad that it has to be moved, because it was left there for a purpose" says Gina Moses-Te Kani of local iwi authority, Hōkai Nuku.

Media gathered today as the first members of the public were allowed to visit the site where this waka kāuri was uncovered two weeks ago.

Local iwi have agreed to display their prized possession again to the world.

Head representative for Hōkai Nuku, Glenn Wilcox says the discovery of the waka is "a sign of love, a sign of caring. That's what it is to me, that's the reason they have found this vessel as a sign from our ancestors".

The motorway extension, Ara Tūhono Pūhoi to Warkworth is the 18.5km stretch of road from the Johnstone's Hill tunnels to north of Warkworth.

Local iwi have confirmed today that there will be a commemoration of the discovery when the motorway is complete.

"While there's a road coming through there's also a opportunity to retire this area and bring back the beauty and grow our next waka," says Moses-Te Kani.

Local iwi have also voiced their intent to extend on traditional teachings about waka held by their ancestors.

"It's also an opportunity for us to work together with archaeologists and bring our own traditional knowledge on waka practice," says Moses-Te Kani.

The conglomerate of iwi responsible for the protection of the region, Hōkai Nuku are not yet ready to disclose when in fact the vessel will be fully removed from the site.

It has yet to been decided where the vessel will find its final resting place.