Tairawhiti's floating classroom arrives in Gisborne

By Talisa Kupenga

The double-hulled voyaging canoe Tairawhiti, which will serve as a floating classroom, has arrived home at Gisborne's port. The million-dollar project set sail from Auckland on its maiden voyage home last week.

The arrival of Tairawhiti waka realises a 27-year-long dream.

CEO of Tairawhiti voyaging Trust Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp says "it's a big day bringing Tairawhiti home to the Tairawhiti and I'm just overjoyed and really happy."

Tairawhiti Kaumatua Taina Ngarimu says "the East Coast is so lucky to receive a waka like this."

Mark Kopua of Ngāti Porou says "the dream has finally become a reality, Tairawhiti has arrived home."

It will be a floating classroom for kids of all ages and ethnicities comes the New Year, teaching core subjects of the curriculum through waka navigation.

Nepia-Clamp says "Our target is every school in the Tairawhiti and every person who is actually interested in this kaupapa is welcome aboard. And we'll be doing a lot of sailing a lot of wananga on our waka and I can see right away she feels at home here."

Tairawhiti left Auckland last week to return home to Gisborne. Nepia-Clamp says her maiden voyage went smoothly.

"This is the 8th [waka] where I managed the build. There is a lot of little bits and pieces, improvements that I noticed could be made and I was unsure how it was going to perform, but on our trip down here she performed beautifully."

Tairawhiti waka will be open to the public from January 8.