Students and parents from West Auckland's Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi are relishing the opportunity to row waka tangata at Ōkahu Bay. This follows a cultural exchange to Rarotonga by the whole school in August to retrace the migration of their ancestors from Hawaiki.
There were mixed emotions for most of the students who are first timers to rowing in a waka tangata.
“I'm really nervous, but excited as well," says student Meadow Hohuakura.
Forty junior students and 35 parents are keen to take this rare opportunity to row in Kahakura, much like their ancestor's hundreds of years ago.
Student parent Kawariki Morgan said, “It's for the children understand and experience these customs of their ancestors, so they know this is something else they can do because they live in the town, it's not something they can't do.”
The leader of Kahakura, Jay Toki said, “It's about connecting, returning people back to the customs of their tūpuna, who they are and their genealogical roots. To bring together people who are living in the cities and not their home areas.”
250 pupils, teachers and parents from Hoani Waititi traveled to Rarotonga four months ago. For the last year, the students have been learning about traditional navigational methods.
“We researched the aspects of the doubled hulled vessels, the southern currents, whale migration paths and the birds who departed (from Rarotonga). On our return back, we've followed on with this, the waka tangata,” said Hoani Waititi TKKM teacher, Te Kurataiaho Kapea.
Students years one to three took to the waters of Ōkahu Matamomoe today, tomorrow years four to six, to keep alive this tradition that isn't commonly seen in the community.