Waka on the Waterfront

19 September 2011

Wellingtonians and visitors can now see two waka on display in Te Raukura (the wharewaka) on the waterfront.

Te Rerenga Kotare, the second waka to be housed in Te Raukura (the wharewaka)

Te Rerenga Kotare, the second waka to be housed in Te Raukura (the wharewaka)

The second waka taua, which arrived on Friday, is called Te Rerenga Kōtare (Flight of the Kingfisher). It will sit alongside the waka tētēkura Te Hononga, which arrived last month. While both will be on permanent public display through the glass sides of the wharewaka, they are working waka.

The latest was carved in Northland from swamp kauri thought to be more than a thousand years old under the guidance of Hector Busby, the country's most renowned waka builder, and master carver Takirirangi Smith. Waka taua are the largest and most elaborate of the single-hull carved waka used by Māori, particularly for ceremonial events and in days gone by it was very much a war canoe.

Sir Ngatata Love, Chairman of both the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust representing Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Te Wharewaka o Pōneke Charitable Trust, and who will hold the kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of the waka taua, welcomed the arrival of the new waka taua.

"This waka taua is a further symbol of the enduring relationship between Wellington City Council and Taranaki Whānui. We are proud of the relationship and believe that for generations to come firm foundations have been laid and that symbols such as this waka taua demonstrate to the wider community the importance and reality of true partnership."

While on reclaimed land, the wharewaka is near the harbour frontage of Te Aro Pā, one of the largest Māori communities in Wellington up until the 1880s.