Shortage of waka paddlers at Waitangi inspires a new generation

By Heeni Brown

A shortage of waka paddlers at Waitangi this year has inspired a new generation to take charge of the pageant by preserving the traditions under the guidance of Māori waka exponents.

Joe Conrad wants more people to experience what he feels when it comes Māori traditional canoes. 

Joe Conrad - Kaihautū, Ngātokimatawhaorua says, “This Waka is a part of me, it's my guardian and it cares for me gratefully. I always think back to my father and his ancestors who connect to this canoe.”

Since 1940 traditionally built paramount waka tauā Ngātokimatawhaorua has been one of the main attractions on Waitangi Day, however the shortage of paddlers could affect her next appearances.

Rutene Gable – Kaihautū says, “Our leaders, our babies, our children who are still nipping at the foot come here and train together.”

Master Waka Builder and Navigator Hector Busby says they need more people interested and practising the art.

Hekenukumai Puhipi - Waka Builder says, “If we are Māori, then we need to maintain our waka legacy, because we should preserve their type of voyaging.”

In addition is the arrival of double hulled sailing canoe Ngahirakamaitawhiti

Tomorrow, they will start their convoy of waka from Haruru Falls to Waitangi.