30 Jan 2016

Waka Festival launches in Auckland

8:48 pm on 30 January 2016

Three waka sailed into Auckland's Viaduct Harbour this morning marking the start of the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival.

Participants prepare for Auckland's Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival.

Participants prepare for Auckland's Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

The event began with a powhiri at The Cloud on Queens Wharf, kicking off three days celebrating Maori culture in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The festival includes wood carving, hangi cooking lessons, and waka competitions - the first waka races in the harbour in 150 years.

Organisers say they hope the festival will highlight aspects of Maori culture often neglected in Auckland.

They said it was a way to showcase the 19 iwi of the Auckland region and their culture. Festival goers will be able to paddle or sail one of the many traditional Māori waka.

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Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

The three-day celebration also features a beam of light shining upwards from the summit of Rangitoto.

Te Haeata o Rangitoto is a large-scale outdoor light activation, coinciding with the inaugural Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival.

Te Rangi-i-totongia-ai-te-ihu-o-Tamatekapua, more commonly known as Rangitoto, is a distinctive feature on Auckland's horizon from both land and sea.

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Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

An array of powerful lights mounted near the summit points directly upwards towards the heavens, creating a pou haeata, a column of light emanating from the crater.

This light beam echoes the form of traditional pou herenga, hitching posts or moorings for waka.

The lighting is a joint pilot project led by Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau (the 13 iwi of Marutūāhu, Ngāti Whātua and Waiohua -Tāmaki, together known as the Tāmaki Collective), and supported by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).