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Waka Safety Guidelines to be Presented at Waitangi

The Nga Waka Federation today (Monday 5 February) presented draft safety guidelines developed for Waka Taua to the Maritime Safety Authority at Whare Runanga on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

These guidelines are the result of several months of nationwide consultation within the waka community, with the assistance of the MSA.

They outline acceptable safety practices, including the roles and responsibilities of the people on and around the waka, and address the wider aspect of availability and use of safety equipment appropriate for the event and conditions.

“The consultation process has given Mäori around the country an opportunity to pool their knowledge and experience to establish a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for kaea and kaihoe,” says the Director of Maritime Safety, Russell Kilvington.

Although Waka Taua, or ceremonial waka, have a good safety record, accidents early last year highlighted the need to ensure that crews are getting the training, education and experience they needed to maintain this high standard.

Waka Taua expert Tepene Mamaku has welcomed the opportunity for Mäori to put together their own guidelines, using a depth of experience drawn from a thousand year history, rather than having regulations imposed upon them.

“It is significant that these guidelines are being presented to the MSA at Waitangi, the home of one of the highest profile Waka Taua events. This year’s National Hui is the first time all the leaders have come together since the landmark gathering in 1990, which prompted a resurgence in Waka Taua and Waka Ama,” says Mr Mamaku.

Director of Maritime Safety, Russell Kilvington, will be present at Waitangi to receive the guidelines.

“Waitangi celebrations are about partnership, and these guidelines have been developed in the spirit of partnership, resulting in an agreed set of safety practices acceptable to both the MSA and Mäori”, says Mr Kilvington.

The guidelines will clarify the place of Waka Taua as a ceremonial vessel in the maritime community and also serve as a resource for the MSA in dealing with incidents involving waka.

“MSA staff will be briefed on the guidelines so that they better understand the balance between ceremonial and safety practices for waka”, says Mr Kilvington.

As a living document the safety guidelines will continue to develop through wider consultation with the Mäori community. Although this document applies specifically to Waka Taua, work has begun on building a similar resource for Waka Ama.


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