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Waka hourua festival educating tauira on Polynesian navigation

Natasha Hill, Te Rito Journalism Cadet

A waka houra festival is giving rangatahi the chance to learn about traditional migration and sailing.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

An opening ceremony for the event will see four waka hourua sail into the harbour on Saturday 6 April.

The third instalment of Te Hau Kōmaru National Waka Hourua Festival will be held at the Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve with hundreds of tauira in attendance.

Te Hau Kōmaru National Waka Hourua Charitable Trust co-chair Iaean Cranwell said they were established to protect and bring awareness to the matauranga of waka hourua (Māori migration canoes).

“We really want to help promote and protect the matauranga around waka hourua, to share the kōrero and guide a continued legacy of kaupapa waka of Aotearoa.

“It’s about bringing that matauranga alive. We read the stories, we hear the ngā waka e whitu (the seven canoes) but, as we learn through our understanding of traditional sailing and migration, there were more than seven waka.”

This is the first time the festival is being held in the South Island as it was previously held in Tauranga and Kāwhia.

Cranwell hopes the festival will help to share the history and knowledge about the cultural significance of waka hourua to rangatahi.

‘We want to ignite a fire’

“Fostering a deeper understanding of waka hourua traditions for generations to come. We want to ignite a fire in these rangatahi so they want to come out sailing.

“It’s about bringing all that kōrero out into the schools. It’s making sure the right stories are coming out. The one thing about this festival is the interactive activities and watching the tauira and rangatahi faces light up when they see [what they’ve learnt] in practice.”

After the festival a group will be sailing on a waka hourua called Hinemoana to Ōtautahi for the next wānanga.

That’s one good thing about this trust is that there are sailing opportunities on weekends and workshops, he said.

The festival will be open for the public following the opening ceremony on Saturday.

It will run from April 6-14.

Tags: Waka Hourua

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