Traditional waka experience is for everybody

By Wena Harawira

In the Bay of Plenty, a new venture has been launched taking passengers on an ocean-going canoe voyage. They're paying to sail from Tauranga to Coromandel Harbour to experience the excitement of traditional sailing at sea.

This is a vessel for a wealthy person. This is a vessel for a person who wants a special experience.

The ocean voyaging canoe was built and sailed extensively by a German.

In NZ the Hawaiki Rising Voyaging Trust bought it to use for a youth development programme. Its crew of five is now caring for 10 passengers who've paid to sail on-board the canoe.

Pat Mohi says, “We've always wanted to expose as many of our people as we can to waka and the waka life including the kōrero of our ancestors, the traditional sciences we had from reading the stars to being aware of the wind conditions, sea patterns, cloud formations. All that kind of stuff, we believe, is empowering for our people to know.”

For $1,600 they learn all about navigating an ocean voyaging canoe. They will eat, sleep and all other activities on board the canoe as they sail from Tauranga to Hauraki.

Juscinta Grace, “This is a good way to learn about sailing an ocean voyaging canoe and the sea faring ways of our ancestors. That's what I first thought. Now I'm a little anxious.”

Ariana Gillespie says, “I'm nervous, I'm like oh my gosh, been thinking about it all week and like freaking myself out.”

Mohi says, “It's a challenge and once they work their way through it and managed to get themselves through the sail, they'll realise they've achieved something.”

This is Hinemoana's maiden voyage and hopefully one of many in the future.

“Ideally waka should be for everybody, not just Māori but whoever wants to experience the culture positively,” says Mohi.