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Waka will sail Thames for Diamond Jubilee

Māori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson confirmed today that New Zealand will be sending a waka taua (war canoe) as the country's official participant in the Thames River Pageant, which marks the Diamond Jubilee celebrating the 60th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II on 3 June.

“Waka welcomed the world to New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup, and now waka will take New Zealand to the world,” Dr Sharples said. “It guarantees our unique national identity will stand out among the hundreds of other vessels from all over the world. Our people have used waka to acknowledge the royal family since the 1860s, and I am pleased that we can continue this magnificent tradition.”

'It is the right way for New Zealand, as a nation, to play tribute to the Queen’s many years of service in this exciting Diamond Jubilee event,” Mr Finlayson said. “The waka is a widely-recognised symbol of this country.”

The waka that will take part in the pageant is named Te Hono ki Aotearoa (this means ‘the connection to New Zealand’) It is owned by Māori arts organisation Toi Māori and is on permanent loan to Leiden Museum, in the Netherlands. It will be crewed by expert paddlers from New Zealand, who will navigate the safety concerns that were originally expressed by the pageant organisers.

Updated on 23rd July 2015