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Waitangi waka create amazing scene

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Today at Waitangi, an impressive sight unfolded as over a dozen waka glided across the waters in a much-anticipated flotilla, captivating a large audience gathered to witness the event.

The paddlers, known as kaihoe, received a warm welcome ashore by a line of kaikaranga, marking a significant moment of cultural celebration.

Isaiah Apiata, a spokesperson for Te Tii Waitangi Marae, shared with the audience the deep meaning behind this flotilla. He explained that it symbolises the bond between the Māori community and the Governor-General, reflecting on the annual gathering at Waitangi as a time to honor both this unity and Māori traditions.

A standout among the vessels was Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world’s largest ceremonial waka, which was specially highlighted for its historical and cultural significance. Built for the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1940, this grand waka measures 36 meters in length and 2 meters in width, capable of carrying 80 paddlers and 55 passengers. Named after the ancestral canoe that is said to have carried the first Māori settlers to New Zealand, this waka celebrated its 50th year since its refurbishment in 1974, adding to the day’s significance.

At the same time as the waka arrived, a hīkoi involving at least 700 participants, concluded at the Treaty Grounds. Starting from the top of the North Island, about 200km away, the group have carried a message of opposition to several policies of the new coalition government regarding Māori.