Today Toi Māori Aotearoa representatives will depart for North America to join the Northwest Coast Tribes of the USA and Canada to participate in the Annual Tribal Canoe Journeys Paddle to Lummi Nation.
A Te Ao Māori News team will join with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde from Portland, Oregon for the journey.
Every year since The Paddle to Seattle in 1989 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Washington State, indigenous Nations from the coast of Alaska, British Columbia and Washington state have celebrated the Tribal Canoe Journeys.
Hundreds of canoe families depart from their tribal territories across the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America and make their way toward the host nation. This year, the 30th anniversary of the Canoe Journeys, is being hosted by the Lummi Nation of Bellingham, near the Canadian border.
Many tribal canoe families have already begun their journey from the north and south of the northwest coast, stopping in at different territories for the night. Canoe families from those territories then join the fleet and paddle together onto the next stage of the journey. On the 24th all of the participating nations converge on to Lummi for three days of celebration and ceremony.
Since 2009, Toi Māori have sent representatives to join with Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde for the Canoe Journeys, and in exchange they have sent representatives to join with waka practitioners here in Aotearoa for Waitangi Day celebrations in Waitangi and other major events involving canoe activities.
In a statement this week, Toi Māori Operations Manager Tamahou Temara says, "Both cultures share in the life skills and art form of pulling a canoe together, experiencing all the ups and downs of a journey. This journey is a course for success for all those involved and produces leaders for the future."
Rituals are exchanged at each reservation the canoe families stop off at. Food is shared in their communal long houses. Rituals begin immediately after, with the furthest tribes beginning their ceremonies, and continue late in to the night.
The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde began their journey yesterday from Squaxin Island to Nisqually. Today they paddle to Puyallup and on Friday (NZ time), Te Ao will join them at their next port of call amongst the Muckleshoot tribe, just west of Seattle.
From there it is a a six day paddle to Lummi. You can follow the journey on the Te Ao Facebook page as we'll be bringing you daily blogs and reports along the way.