Ngātokimatawhaorua - The biography of a waka

Ngātokimatawhaorua - The biography of a waka

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This is the biography of the mighty ceremonial waka taua Ngātokimatawhaorua that rests on the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi.

The inspiration for its construction came from Te Puea Hērangi. In the late 1930s the Waikato leader held a dream to build seven waka taua for the 1940 centennial commemorations at Waitangi. By 1937 two waka had been commissioned. Carved in Northland under the guidance of Pita Heperi (Te Tai Tokerau) and Piri Poutapu  (Waikato), Ngātokimatawhaorua was one of them.

But it was to be many decades before the true power of the waka to inspire a people was realised. In 1974 Ngātokimatawhaorua was refurbished by the late Sir Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi ‘Hec’ Busby for relaunching during Waitangi Day ceremonies. It was then that Te Puea’s dream turned into reality. By 1990, The Year of the Waka, 22 waka and their 2000 crew gathered at Waitangi.

Ngātokimatawhaorua and others became symbols of Māori unity and pride and an important part of the renaissance of the traditions of carving and voyaging around Aotearoa and beyond.

  • CATEGORY: Art, design and architecture, Biography and memoir, History, Te ao Māori
  • ISBN: 9781991151193
  • ESBN: N/A
  • PUBLISHER: Massey University Press
  • IMPRINT: Massey University Press
  • PUBLISHED: 10/08/2023
  • PAGE EXTENT: 264
  • FORMAT: Hard cover

Jeff Evans is a non-fiction writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. He has written extensively about both waka and voyaging, including the 2015 biography of Pwo navigator Sir Heke-nuku-mai-ngā-iwi (Hec) Busby, Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi Busby: Not Here By Chance. Other publications include Ngā Waka o Neherā: The First Voyaging Canoes; The Discovery of Aotearoa (later reissued as Polynesian Navigation and the Discovery of New Zealand); Waka Taua: The Māori War Canoe; and Māori Weapons in Pre-European New Zealand.