10 Feb 2011

Wellington waka to be returned

9:57 pm on 10 February 2011

Wellington is to get its waka back after a dispute between the council and the canoe's builders.

The Wellington City Council commissioned and paid Waiwhetu Maori in the Hutt Valley to carve the waka two decades ago, but after a period of restoration and storage they refused to release it.

It was to be the centrepiece at the newly opened wharewaka built to house it on the waterfront, but was not given back in time for the Waitanagi Day opening ceremony last Sunday.

A spokesperson for Waiwhetu Maori says they did not want to lose the spirit of the waka.

The council's chief executive, Garry Poole, says he has now been assured that the waka will be returned.

Mr Poole says more waka are likely to be housed in the $11.5 million wharewaka in future and he would not rule out working with Waiwhetu Maori again despite the dispute.