New waka unite Māori, Māoli and Māohi

By D'Angelo Martin

Three new waka launched this week in the small Northland town of Kororāreka Russell recognise the waka traditions between New Zealand Māori, Hawaiian Kanaka Maoli and Tahitian Māohi peoples.

"The most special part about our journey was our people, carving families and carving relationships," says chief waka builder James Eruera.

Eruera, who managed the building project, says the building of the waka represented the people of the pacific who were bound together through waka.

The names of the three new waka are Kama (Hawaiian), Kuaka (Māori) and Tamari'i Maohi (Tahitian).

Carver of Kuaka Waka Billy Harrison, of Ngāti Kahu, says the kaupapa was all about whakawhanaungatanga with those who came from Hawaii and Tahiti.

"We've got a lot of things in common, a lot of their values are really similar to ours but in terms of the waka, the waka will speak for themselves. Just happy to be a part of this kaupapa."

Tuia 250 Co-Chair Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says he was very happy to see the three new waka carved as part of Tuia 250 Rātā project.

“It was deeply satisfying to see new generations of carvers from Hawaii, Tahiti and Aotearoa at work alongside some of New Zealand’s master carvers and know that this vital skill and knowledge is alive, well and safe for future generations,” Barclay-Kerr says.

A wide range of events will take place in the Bay of Islands over the coming days as part of Tuia 250.

For more information about Tuia 250