Rātā Waka Building Symposium Protects Endangered Art Form
6 Nov 2019
Four waka, including three newly carved waka, launched yesterday in Kororareka recognised the legacy of Master waka builder, Tā Hekenukumai Busby and the need to protect tārai waka mātauranga (waka building knowledge)
The three new waka built by carvers from Tahiti, Hawaii and Aotearoa were produced from the Rātā Symposium, a programme showcasing Māori and Pacific canoe carvers using past, present and future technologies.
Hāniko Te Kurapa, Creative New Zealand, Arts Practice Director, Ngā Toi Māori said,
“Ko te mahi tārai waka he mahi kāore e tino kitea, kāore e tino rangona i ēnei rā, mā te huruhuru ka ora ai te puna mātauranga o ā tātou tīpuna kia kore e ngaro. Ko te waka tētahi o ngā ara e hono hono nei i a tātou huri noa i Te Moananui-a-Kiwa he mea nui kia mau ai kī ēnei hononga.”
“The practice of waka building is a practice not often seen today. It is important that we provide support so that the traditional knowledge of this art is retained. Waka were one of the most important tools for Polynesian society, they are the connector of history, geneology, stories, knowledge, education and more and therefore it is imperative that we provide support and retain the practice.”
The names of the new waka are Kama (built by Hawaiian carvers and in te reo Māori means Tuia to bind), Kuaka (built by Māori carvers and takes its name from the Godwit bird which is able to cross vast ocean and land masses including the Pacific) and Tamari'i Maohi (built by Tahitian carvers, meaning tamariki māori or māori children).
A fourth waka started by Sir Hek Busby and Tahitian canoe builder Puaniho Tauotaha was completed by his son, Freddie Tauotaha and also launched 27 years after the two master carvers began the build. The vaka was named Puaniho Tautira Mairenui.
Creative New Zealand provided funding assistance to the Rāta Symposium through the Ngā Toi Māori fund. The CNZ’s national strategy for Māori Arts Te Hā o Ngā Toi Māori acknowledged the great importance of ensuring tārai waka skills are sustained for future generations by providing funding support. The Waka, vaka and wa’a (canoe) will be on display in Kororareka /Russell in Tai Tokerau Northland until 10 November.