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New government funding for waka will help precious national heritage

Media release: 4 February 2020

Tuia 250 Co-Chairs Dame Jenny Shipley and Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of new funding to strengthen Māori and Pacific voyaging traditions.

The Co-Chairs noted that during Tuia there was strong support from Maori and Pākehā that these vessels be recognised as an important part of our heritage and that they be more widely accessible to all New Zealanders. The Co-Chairs see this funding announcement as a very positive response to that call.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, has announced an investment of $1.75 million over three years to enable kaupapa waka hourua experts to chart a course that will strengthen the mātauranga and tikanga – or knowledge and practices – related to waka hourua building, voyaging and traditional navigation.

Tuia 250 Co-Chair Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says, “This funding acknowledges the many who have worked tirelessly and voluntarily to revitalise kaupapa waka hourua, the knowledge of our tūpuna. Waka hourua is more than sailing, it is a way of life. A way of being that connects people, builds knowledge and understanding, and instils leadership and teamwork.

“Waka is a symbol of mana for Māori, Pasifika and Aotearoa, so this recognition is a gift to our Mana and the Mana of our nation. There is a cultural wrap-around to waka hourua. It’s not only about putting up some sails. It is about the language, te reo, used onboard, it is about the feats of tūpuna, and the knowledge and science, the matauranga, that has been handed down through whakapapa. Onboard you are part of a way of life where community comes first.

“This funding is a great start. It’s like the lashings used to bind the components of a waka together, giving kaupapa waka hourua experts the opportunity to strengthen the kaupapa for generations to come.”

Tuia 250 Co-Chair Dame Jenny Shipley agrees. “I believe it is a critical step that a comprehensive waka strategy is put in place to ensure that its place as a cherished part of our maritime heritage and our nation’s heritage is secured in the same way as other important assets have been acknowledged historically.

“As we move to establish our New Zealand history curriculum that was announced just prior to the start of the Tuia 250 Voyage, the role of waka hourua in our story confirms who we are as a people.

“Waka hourua had visibility on a national stage really for the first time with Tuia 250. The country watched waka hourua join heritage tall ships in a celebration of our voyaging traditions. And we watched many Pākeha New Zealanders start to see and understand that waka voyaging was how the earliest settlers of Aotearoa New Zealand arrived here, and they started to have pride in waka hourua, too. This is the precious heritage of all New Zealanders.

“I warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to strengthen waka hourua as part of valuing and celebrating our dual heritage as we build a shared future together as New Zealanders.”

Updated on 5th February 2020