Waka Ama vandalism under investigation

By Taroi Black

Local police from Tuakau, south of Auckland have conducted an investigation into the burning of three outrigger canoes. The local club, Waka Tangata o Te Awhinamai are wanting answers to what happened. 

Chairperson of the Waka Tangata o Te Awhinamai Roy Thompson says, “Very sad, very sad it's all on our facebook pages its pretty pouri aye.”

The local Tuakau outrigger club was informed by local police and the fire brigade this morning. But they have no idea who was involved with the incident. 

“They just finished doing a scan on the crime scene and they'll be in touch with us when they know more.”

The three canoes have been part of the Waka Tangata o Te Awhinamai club for three years. Each canoe was $15,000. One canoe, in particular, was named after Te Wahapu Rapana (kaumātua of the club) and the other canoes have a cultural significance to the club. 

Te Wahapū Rapana says, “I'm very disappointed. That canoe was also named after me. This canoe here was named after a place from our homelands at the Waikato river mouth and that one was named after the waka that’s held at the Hamilton Museum.”

The ceremony which included a karakia saw current and former paddlers unite in their quest to find out who burnt the waka.

Former paddler Waitangi Ellis says, “I parked down there and I was walking and I got to about where the chair is I could see a bit of smoke and I started crying. I didn't think it was going to be that bad, I was expecting a bit of a burn but this really hurts.”

Te Toki Voyaging Trust from Hamilton have provided this club with two outrigger canoes as their token of aroha for the vandalism of these canoes.