Unearthing Horouta waka

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Ngāi Tāmanuhiri have launched a new book telling the story of Horouta waka and how it came to be in the Te Wherowhero Lagoon.

Kaumatua Temple Isaacs tells Te Kāea about how he came across the traditional waka as a child.

Chanting a traditional account from oral literature handed down over generations,  Issacs recites the opening passage of Ka Haramai a Paoa, which tells of the arrival of Horouta waka to Aotearoa under the guidance of captain navigator and tribal ancestor, Paoa.

Isaacs says, "Paoa came on his canoe Horouta, dividing it into two at Tauranui o Kanawa."

Isaacs recalls coming across the ancient waka at Te Wherowhero Lagoon as a child at Muriwai School.

"We were taken aback, we were afraid.  We'd never seen wood so black and it was upside down.  Huge.”

Funded by The Ministry of Education and supported by CORE Education, the resource tells the story of Horouta waka, from which many East Coast tribes descend.

Isaacs says, “It might be new to them, it might be they've heard about it about it, but just to put it in place for them, so they know what kōrero they've heard over the years- well, it's there for them in writing.”

Isaacs says his elders instructed that the waka be left to lie where it is and attempts to remove it failed.

"When they tied it up with cables and everything, ready to haul it away with a steamroller when they came back the bloody thing was gone... It just disappeared!  We didn't even know where the heck it is, some say it's on the island there in the swamp,” says Isaacs.

A book has been published, along with an online e-book and online video to make the story available to all.

“Paoa then turns to the east,” says Isaacs.