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Waka fleet forming at Waitangi

Waka fleet forming at Waitangi

Famous waka from around New Zealand have already begun to arrive at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, a sign of the special nature of this year’s 170th Waitangi Day celebrations.

(The Treaty Grounds, known as the Birthplace of modern new Zealand, is owned, funded and managed on behalf of all New Zealanders by the not-for-profit Waitangi National Trust.)

Treaty Grounds CEO Jeanette Richardson says this Waitangi Day will be a milestone. “The largest waka in the world, Ngatokimatawhaorua, is based at the Treaty Grounds and will majestically enter the water after a major re-furbishing that marks its 70th birthday.” The 35-metre-long canoe is considered the rangatira of Tai Tokerau waka, says one of the waka kaihoutu, Joe Conrad.

In this Year of the Waka, Mr Conrad’s daughter will captain a female-crewed waka tete kura. Two other waka will also have female crew.

Although it is almost a month before the nation’s birthday, four waka are already at Hobson’s Beach on the Treaty Grounds. Mataatua Puhi and Mokopuna have arrived and are being cared for by waka kaitiaki or guardians until they take part in the spectacle. Further waka are expected during the next week.

“With the additional draw-card of potentially the most impressive waka armada seen in modern times, the Waitangi National Trust is preparing for crowds on 6th February that may exceed our recent record of nearly fifty thousand,” says Jeanette Richardson. “We have major new transport, refreshment and visitor facilities in place to look after our manuhiri. We expect that with the current pattern of near-perfect weather in the north, this will be an unrivalled, unprecedented Waitangi Day at Waitangi.”


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