“What's the name of this waka? Te Aho Matua!”

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi have launched two new waka today, a first for the school. Valued at $39,000, the two waka and a trailer were funded through a community grant based on public votes.

“What's the name of this waka? Te Aho Matua!”, that's the call from students and whānau members of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi as they take to the water with their new waka.

Kaea Hohua (Ngāi Tūhoe) says, “It's excellent, the new waka gliding on the water, it’s easy going.”

Mahanga Pihama is a teacher at the school and he says it opens up new opportunities for the students who have in the past paddled with other clubs.

“We can now organise our training times and dictate when and where we train within Tāmaki and beyond to go and do what needs to be done,” says Pihama.

Hohua says, “We've been waiting for a long time, it's awesome to see and awesome to try them out on the water.”

The waka were made possible through a grant from the Million Dollar Mission fund which supports community initiatives in West Auckland. Pihama says the waka broaden the pathways of health and education.

"It's teaching people, students, no matter who it is, about looking after the water, looking after equipment, paying attention to the ocean, paying attention to the wind, so on and so forth,” says Pihama.

These students are looking forward to getting into the competitions ahead.

Hohua says, “We can train more frequently and be better prepared to compete at different events such as secondary school nationals, and so on and so forth.”

“We can paddle in competitions, to paddle in Auckland and go out to the places where our ancestors paddled,” says Pihama.

With their sights set on the horizon, Pihama says this is just the beginning and the long-term goal to paddle in Pacific tides in the future.