Waka Ama Launched Thanks To Million Dollar Mission Funding

Sunday 2 September was an exciting day for Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Hoani Waititi Marae as their long-awaited waka ama were launched in a special ceremony at Te Atatu Peninsula’s Taipari Strand.  

Lots of people including specially invited guests such as The Trusts CEO Simon Wickham and members of the Henderson-Massey Local Board turned out to enjoy the memorable day. And in an especially moving part of the ceremony, the waka were dedicated to the great patron and mentor of Hoani Waititi Marae the late Papa Alf Pukepuke.  

Million Dollar Mission funding of $39,555 was used to purchase the custom-made waka ama which will help to reconnect the children and whānau of the primary school and marae with their history and genealogy. The water has special significance in Māori culture because it symbolises the very essence of life.  

‘The waka ama will provide our community with a centrepiece,’ advises Tahuri Tumoana of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Hoani Waititi Marae.  

‘All ages from 7 to 70 will be involved. The waka ama have given us a real focal point and something for the whole community to rally around,’ continues Tahuri. 

As well as being a focus for Māori culture and customs, the waka ama will help to keep alive traditional crafts as iwi learn how to look after and maintain the waka. In addition, the waka ama provide the perfect vehicle for teaching children and whānau about wider issues like the importance of keeping physically active and how to stay safe on the water.

The school and marae are now eagerly anticipating a busy summer with many outings and trips planned for the waka ama. 

‘We’re looking forward to the summer and building the capacity of the school and marae community in learning how to use and look after the waka ama,’ reports Tahuri.  

‘We’re also looking to build links, cultural exchanges and races with waka ama based overseas in places like Tahiti and New Caledonia.’  

‘And the boats also provide us with the opportunity to promote te reo Māori and to revitalise our community,’ continues Tahuri.  

Without the help of The Trusts Million Dollar Mission the project is unlikely to have gotten off the ground. Tahuri makes it clear just what a difference the funding has made.  

‘It’s been our dream for 23 years now,’ Tahuri explains, ‘and finally with the help of the Million Dollar Mission we have our wonderful waka ama. We couldn’t have done it without The Trusts and we’re really grateful.’ 

The Trusts’ Simon Wickham also thoroughly enjoyed the special day: ‘It’s fantastic to see the Million Dollar Mission funding being used for great projects like this one,’ Simon notes.  

‘The Trusts are all about supporting local community and it’s been a real pleasure witnessing first hand the pride these young people have and the pleasure this Million Dollar Mission opportunity has brought now and in future for this community.’  

For more information on Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Hoani Waititi Marae check out their website.

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