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Tuia 250 ki Whangārei Terenga Paraoa – Tuia te muka tangata


As the Tuia 250 journeys north into Te Tai Tokerau we reflect on its symbolic significance and arrival into the shores of Whangārei Terenga Paraoa (the Whangārei Harbour), say co-chairs of the Tuia 250 National Coordinating Committee, Dame Jenny Shipley and Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr.

“Historically Whangārei was a waypoint and assembly place for Māori and tribal Chiefs as they voyaged north and south. Whangārei was a thriving Māori settlement well before the arrival of James Cook and early English settlers,” says Dame Jenny.

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr says that in many ways the flotilla arrival into Whangārei Terenga Paraoa and being greeted by a gathering of waka ama and other vessels is a small recreation of the scenes along the shores of the harbour where Māori gathered in significant numbers to organise their voyaging journeys. It will be quite a spiritual experience.

“For me particularly significant in Te Taitokerau is home of the late, great Māori waka builder, navigator and sailor Sir Hekenukumai Busby. It will be a poignant experience to witness the waka Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, which Sir Hector built in honour of his wife, make its way into the harbour.

“I remember 22 years ago we were in the North with Hekenukumai and his first voyaging waka Te Aurere. It is important and heartening to see three voyaging waka come back here to celebrate his life and achievements.”

Master carver and kaumatua Te Warihi Hetaraka says there are many stories that bind us. Tuia 250 is not a light kaupapa but it is an opportunity to challenge ourselves and explore what does dual heritage and shared future look like? We have an opportunity to leave a legacy for future generations, tuia te muka tangata - weaving people together for a shared future.

“Whangārei is a place where many stories of our links to our dual heritage are represented in different artforms, Te Matau a Pohe (The fishhook of Pohe), Huarahi o Te Whai (Pathway of Opportunity), the Sculpture Trail and Hīhīaua Cultural Centre to name a few. All these creations in their own unique way speak to who we are.”

Dame Jenny says she is excited by the arrival of the flotilla to Whangārei and the opportunity for all visitors to experience the storytelling that is expressed through arts and crafts, and celebrates the place, the people and the history of Whangārei.

“I’m looking forward to visiting the Hīhīaua Cultural Centre and the Rātā International Waka Symposium that has been occurring over the last few weeks in honour of the late Sir Hector Busby. Sir Hector did so much to revive the knowledge and skills of traditional waka building and celestial navigation and passed these on to the next generations of leaders like Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, Jack Thatcher and Heemi Eruera. I’m excited to see the amazing demonstration of waka carving and building practices of the Pacific,” she says.

James Eruera, Tumu Tarai Waka and Co-¬chair Te Au Mārie, says the Rātā symposium includes practitioners from Hawaii, Tahiti and Aotearoa demonstrating their work as they transform trees to functional waka. Rātā will bring greater visibility to the traditional and contemporary matauranga of this art form.

“Tuia 250 has provided a great platform for us as practitioners to raise the profile of this art form and the importance of the connections that make us who we are,” says Eruera.

Dame Jenny says Tuia 250 is about creating a space for people to tell their stories, and for us all to think about how we build on past experiences, good or bad, to move forwards towards a better future. “I’m pleased Whāngarei is using this platform to share their stories.”


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