Waka experience aims to bring together all ethnicities

By Harata Brown

This weekend thousands of people have descended on Auckland's waterfront for the first ever Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival.  It celebrates the role of waka in Māori life and gave all-comers a chance to learn more about Māori culture.  Today people got their chance to try paddling Māori canoes.

For one day only, members of the public were given the opportunity to paddle in a traditional Māori canoe on the Waitematā Harbour with the help of local Māori, and one Indian whānau just couldn't get enough! 

Waka facilitator Hauauru Rawiri says today's demonstration aims to bring all ethnicities together.

He says, "In the end they may perhaps be receptive to the idea of learning our language and our customs, to live more harmoniously amongst us."

John McCafferey (Ngāi Pākehā) says, "I think it's just great, foreigners networking with the indigenous peoples, the Māori.  It's an opportunity for foreigners like me to meet, see, and learn from local Māori here."

The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival ends tomorrow with a festival finale, featuring a collaboration of Māori musicians including Ria Hall, Annie Crummer, Betty-Anne Monga and Maisey Rika.