Media release: 6 November 2019
The naming and launching of three waka took place in Kororāreka Russell today as a result of the Rātā symposium which is part of the Tuia 250 programme.
Tuia 250 Co-Chair Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says he was very happy to see the three new waka carved as part of Tuia 250 Rātā project which has taken place in Whangārei over recent weeks, enter the water for the first time.
“It was deeply satisfying to see new generations of carvers from Hawaii, Tahiti and Aotearoa at work alongside some of New Zealand’s master carvers and know that this vital skill and knowledge is alive, well and safe for future generations,” says Hoturoa.
“In this moving ceremony one very special waka that was launched was begun 27 years ago by the great New Zealand carver and navigator Sir Hek Busby and renowned waka builder, the late Puaniho Tauotaha from Tahiti. This waka was also finally completed in Whangārei, by the hands of Puaniho’s son Freddie.
“To see Sir Hek’s waka on the water alongside the new waka, speaks to the passing on of skills and I have confidence in the future of this great art form as old traditions and new innovations are applied to the building of new waka.
"It was a very special and historic moment as master carver Te Warihi Hetaraka conferred the status of tohunga on Hemi Eruera ahead of the waka being launched into the water."
The names of the new waka are Kama (Hawaiian), Kuaka (Māori) and Tamari'i Maohi (Tahitian). The waka started by Sir Hek and Puanhiho is named Puaniho Tautira Mairenui.
The launch took place at Haratu Marae where the waka will be on display until the 10 November, and the carvers are on hand to share stories and insights. They are already attracting good crowds which is encouraging to see, Hoturoa concluded.
Updated on 11th November 2019