Waka racing revives 150-year-old tradition on the Waitematā

By Tamati Tiananga

Members of the public were given the opportunity to paddle a waka as part of the inaugural Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival being held in Auckland this weekend.

The move is part of an initiative to revive waka races in the Auckland harbour which began 150 years ago.

Nearly 100 paddlers from Auckland and around the country participated in today's waka parade.  A war canoe, a fishing canoe were used to help celebrate the occasion.

A gathering to revive the first waka races in the harbour which began 150 years ago.

Morehu Wilson (Whakatiwai, Hauraki) says, "It's about reviving the waka traditions to the Waitematā Habour and the Hauraki Gulf."

Ani Heihei (Ngāti Awa) is a member of the Hinemoana, waka tētē crew who travelled from Te Teko to help celebrate the inaugural occasion.  She says, "We are all paddling as one with other canoes like Kōtuiti and Kahukura.  It's all about bonding and relationships."

The races were spectacular to watch.  Waka Hourua expert Hoturoa Kerr was present, he says, "It's where many waka berthed, so it's all about bring back those kinds of experiences to the multitudes of Auckland."

His daughter Rangiiria also took part in today's races, saying, "It is a very different experience.  A new experience for a lot of people to see this sort of thing on the water.  So it is amazing and important especially for tourists who frequently come to Auckland."

All teams battled for supremacy, with the hope next year's event will attract more competitors to celebrate the revival of the waka races over the next 150 years.