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Top Tips For The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival

Tāmaki Makaurau will come to life this weekend when one of its premier festivals returns to celebrate the region’s rich Māori history and culture.

The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival is a free, whānau-friendly event taking place on 23 January on Captain Cook Wharf and on the water.

Now into its fifth year, the festival is one of the region’s most popular summertime events.

It will showcase Māori heritage and culture of Tāmaki Makaurau with waka sailings, kapa haka, Māori kai, arts and crafts, games, storytelling and live entertainment from some of the country’s best talent.

The festival is delivered by Auckland Unlimited, the region’s cultural and economic agency, on behalf of Auckland Council, in partnership with Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau that represent the 19 iwi of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Richard Clarke, Head of Major Events at Auckland Unlimited, says the festival is a great way for people to discover more about how Māori heritage and culture has shaped the region.

"Tāmaki Makaurau has a unique Māori identity that distinguishes it from other cities in the world,” Clarke says. “This festival is a chance for Aucklanders and visitors to learn more and celebrate Māori heritage and the contemporary culture of Tāmaki Makaurau."

The festival runs from 10am-10pm with a laser and fireworks display wrapping up the event.

Here are five ways you can enjoy the festival.

Live entertainment
If you want to see talented Māori performers, songwriters and musicians live on stage, then the festival is the place to be. Among the line-up is Hawaiki TŪ, an Auckland-based professional company of Māori artists specialising in haka theatre, kapa haka, contemporary Māori dance and ihi flow – a Māori movement training system. Don’t miss multi-award-winning singer-songwriter Maisey Rika and Seth Haapu, one of New Zealand’s most prolific songwriters. And Aotearoa's legendary Trinity Roots will treat the crowd with a selection of their well-loved and cherished songs.

Waka Hourua sailings
Waka is widely regarded among iwi as a cultural icon, capturing voyaging heritage and the birth of Māori culture in New Zealand. Festival-goers will be able to experience this with a waka sailing on the beautiful Waitematā Harbour. New to the festival this year are lunch and dinner sailings where a pre-prepared hangi meal can be enjoyed on-board while learning about traditional Māori navigational skills. Waka tickets will be available for purchase on the day.

Kai is an important part of Māori culture and plenty will be on offer to tempt your tastebuds. From gelato, pineapple and water ice cream to Chars Kai Basket offering mussel fritters, whitebait fritters, Taniwha burgers, boil up and gourmet fry bread with a pesto topping. Or sample mouth-watering meat grilled and smoked over native manuka and kanuka wood at the Smokers & Grillers food truck. And if you have enough room, hāngi will be on offer thanks to Mama's Hāngi.

Graffiti art
Another new feature of the festival this year is a live graf art installation. Watch as a blank 50 metre canvas is slowly transformed throughout the day into a work of graffiti art by four local graf artists, Bobby Hung, Kairau ‘Haser’ Bradley, Monty Collins and Romana Tarau.

Traditional treatments
Learn more about Rongoā (traditional Māori medicine) a system of healing comprising diverse practices and an emphasis on the spiritual dimension of health. It includes herbal medicine made from plants, physical techniques like mirimiri (massage), and spiritual healing. Rongoā Māori expert, Donna Kerridge, and Atarangi Muru will be on hand offering mirimiri sessions throughout the day and will have a range of Rongoā Māori products to purchase.

For updates on Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival check out aucklandnz.com/tamakifest

Event details

What: Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival
When: Saturday 23 January 2021
Where: Captain Cook Wharf, Quay Street, Auckland CBD 
Time: 10am-10pm
Entry: Free

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