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Thousands gather on Wellington’s Waterfront for Kupe

Thousands gather on Wellington’s Waterfront for Kupe
2018 New Zealand Festival opening

Tonight tens of thousands watched, captivated, as a majestic fleet of waka hourua (traditional double-hulled sailing canoes), met by waka ama and waka taua performed an opening spectacular on the waters of Te Whanganui-a-Tara/ Wellington Harbour, which echoed with the futuristic sounds of the Pacific, a thundering 1000-strong haka and a mass choir for the 2018 New Zealand Festival opening Kupe.

Performers paid tribute to Polynesian explorer Kupe’s discovery of Aotearoa and first landing of the waka Matahorua in the harbour. Kupe and his wife Kuramarotini were played by well-known actors Te Kohe Tuhaka (Shortland Street) and Māori songstress Maisey Rika.

“This is the most exciting thing I’ve been involved with in a very long time,” says Warren Maxwell the composer of A Waka Odyssey and well-known musician (Black Seeds, Trinity Roots).

A Waka Odyssey is a story about where humanity sits in the universe, it comes from navigating by the stars and that has meant the music has been on a fully Bowie galactic trip! It went from being a cultural trip to a galactic adventure.”

Creative Director Anna Marbrook, part of the Creative Team behind A Waka Odyssey says, “Tonight’s performance and preceding journey was a way of capturing all of our stories of voyaging here (to Aotearoa New Zealand). At the heart of that are three thousand years of voyaging history.”

The journey undertaken by the crews of the waka hourua began almost four weeks ago departing from Auckland, Tauranga and Napier to reach Wellington in time for tonight’s performance. The participation of the waka hourua was led by master Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr navigator, voyager and waka expert who has been a leader in the movement to teach the skills of traditional voyaging and celestial navigation to across Aotearoa. The crew’s skills were tested by the recent bad weather – a reminder of the incredible feat of Kupe and the first voyagers.

Tonight’s spectacular extravaganza was the result of two years planning by the New Zealand Festival team based on the vision of A Waka Odyssey by the Creative Team of Anna Marbrook, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Kasia Pol.

New Zealand Festival Artistic Director, Shelagh Magadza says, “The Festival is delighted to have been able to partner with Te Ātiawa/Taranaki Whānui iwi to host this once-in-a-lifetime event. It is fantastic that the Festival is able to produce these unique moments that reflect our unique cultural identity and use the arts as a unifying force within society”.

“I congratulate Director Anna Marbrook, Navigator Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Designer Kasia Pol on realising their ambition for A Waka Odyssey to tell one of the most important stories of our island nation in such a wonderful way. Undoubtedly, this event will leave a remarkable legacy for people across Aotearoa and the Pacific as we honour the stories of our ancestors and forge new ways of living together.”

Tomorrow from 12.30pm families are invited to see the magnificent waka hourua up close for Kupe Landing: Petone Family Day, at the Petone foreshore - part of a celebration of our place in the Pacific.

A Waka Odyssey at the New Zealand Festival in Wellington

Download the A Waka Odyssey flyer to plan your journey and discover more FREE community events.

For further information about the range of A Waka Odyssey Events please visit https://www.festival.co.nz/2018/events/a-waka-odyssey/
Key Events:
· 24 February, Petone Foreshore 12.30pm –6.30pm Kupe Landing: Petone Family Day
· 21 February – 4 March – Kupe Dreaming: Waka Arts & Culture events

A Waka Odyssey has been made possible by investment from New Zealand Major Events, Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, a partnership between Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Kāpiti Coast District Council and Porirua City Council as well as New Zealand Community Trust, Creative New Zealand, UNESCO, Te Puni Kōkiri, New Zealand Māori Tourism, Pub Charity Limited and First Sovereign Trust Limited. Thanks to A Waka Odyssey supporter’s GK Shaw and Southbase Construction.

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