Tauranga hosting first ever waka festival

Te Hau Komaru chair Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr. Photo. Supplied.

The first National Waka Hourua Festival will be held in Tauranga later this month.

The event is being launched by Te Hau Komaru and will take place from May 19 to May 23.

Hinemoana waka, a double-hulled voyaging waka, is already on its voyage after starting in Kawhia, under the direction of Te Toki Voyaging Trust, and will join up with Tai Rawhiti Waka at Gisborne.

They will be met at Motiti Island by Haunui Waka, from Auckland, and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti Waka, from Tauranga.

The fleet then sets sail to Tauranga Moana, where they will be welcomed by the Waka Taua Takitimu and local waka tangata.

Hoturoa says the festival aims to raise awareness about waka hourua and all the things connected to it.

“This festival has a strong matauranga theme which includes environmental awareness, astronomy, hauora, creative arts and community connectivity,” says Hoturoa.

“By the end of the festival we hope to have increased people's understanding of the types of knowledge systems associated with this practice and to see learning pathways developed that all young people in Aotearoa are able to follow.”

The Waka Hourua Flotilla is scheduled to arrive at 11am on Wednesday, May 19 with the best viewpoints likely to be Mauao, Moturiki, Pilot Bay, Mount Main Beach, Tay Street Beach, Omanu Beach and Tauranga Bridge Marina, although timings will vary at each location.

School workshops will then run on the Thursday and Friday with a relevant book display on location at the Tauranga City Library for the duration of the festival.

Afternoon workshops, where the general public can explore a waka and learn about navigation and Pacific voyaging, will also take place with the waka open day on Saturday, 23 May a chance to go on a short sail at the Tauranga Bridge Marina.

Te Puna o Rangiriri, the voyaging trust of Pwo navigator Jack Thatcher, will be hosting the festival in Tauranga.

Thatcher says the festival is a celebration of all things waka hourua.

“It’s a chance for people to learn more about waka and some of the things we’ve been doing, like voyaging across the ocean to reconnect with ancestral homelands, with Hawaiki.”

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