Waka drops by on Wellington voyage

Tauranga-based waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti stopped at Gisborne yesterday before sailing on to be part of the Waka Odyssey festival in Wellington. The waka is a floating whare wananga (school), teaching traditional navigation. Holding two carved guardians of the waka are local men Kawai Joe, left, and Teina Kirikiri. Behind them are, from left, James Tremlett, Nico Pakarati and Tabai McGregor. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

TAURANGA waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti sailed into the harbour from Great Barrier Island yesterday.

The waka stopped in for provisions and set sail again today for Wellington on its way to take part in the celebration A Waka Odyssey.

The festival celebrates voyaging history, and Friday’s opening night will celebrate the great navigator Kupe, who was one of the first to reach Aotearoa.

Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti is one of a fleet of waka hourua travelling to the festival. From there, she will carry on to Rekohu/Wharekauri (Chatham Islands).

With a crew of 11, she also has two local men on board — Kawai Joe of Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Teina Kirikiri of Uawa.

For the past three years they have been part of Te Kura o Nga Kuri o Tarawhata – The School of Traditional and Celestial Navigation.

“It’s a privilege to be part of the revival of traditional navigation,” said Kawai Joe.

“We use the stars and natural elements to navigate.

“The boat is entirely lashed together by rope. No nails. The hulls are two kauri logs. All native wood.”

Skipper Toiora Hawira of Te Awa o Whanganui, who is also referred to as the tuakana (older brother), says Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti is a supporting vessel to its principal waka Te Aurere. Collectively they are known as the Waka Tapu.

Ngahiraka accompanied Te Aurere across the pacific for a special voyage to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 2012.

“The whakaaro (thought) behind Te Kura o Nga Kuri o Tarawhata is to carry on this legacy of our tipuna (ancestors). Then these guys can teach it so it will never be lost.”



TAURANGA waka hourua (twin-hulled voyaging canoe) Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti sailed into the harbour from Great Barrier Island yesterday.

The waka stopped in for provisions and set sail again today for Wellington on its way to take part in the celebration A Waka Odyssey.

The festival celebrates voyaging history, and Friday’s opening night will celebrate the great navigator Kupe, who was one of the first to reach Aotearoa.

Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti is one of a fleet of waka hourua travelling to the festival. From there, she will carry on to Rekohu/Wharekauri (Chatham Islands).

With a crew of 11, she also has two local men on board — Kawai Joe of Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Teina Kirikiri of Uawa.

For the past three years they have been part of Te Kura o Nga Kuri o Tarawhata – The School of Traditional and Celestial Navigation.

“It’s a privilege to be part of the revival of traditional navigation,” said Kawai Joe.

“We use the stars and natural elements to navigate.

“The boat is entirely lashed together by rope. No nails. The hulls are two kauri logs. All native wood.”

Skipper Toiora Hawira of Te Awa o Whanganui, who is also referred to as the tuakana (older brother), says Ngahiraka mai Tawhiti is a supporting vessel to its principal waka Te Aurere. Collectively they are known as the Waka Tapu.

Ngahiraka accompanied Te Aurere across the pacific for a special voyage to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in 2012.

“The whakaaro (thought) behind Te Kura o Nga Kuri o Tarawhata is to carry on this legacy of our tipuna (ancestors). Then these guys can teach it so it will never be lost.”



Renowned ancient waka such as Horouta, Takitimu and Te Ikaroa a Rauru have been arriving in our bay since the early migrations of Maori from Hawaiki to Aotearoa.

Fast forward to 2018 and the art and science of traditional voyaging and navigation is alive and well.

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Hera Ngata - 2 months ago
Nga mihi Shaan Te Kani.

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