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Volunteers train as Tairawhiti's double-hulled waka takes shape

Media Releases - 2nd August 2017 The Gisborne Herald
dt.common.streams.StreamServer 1 Caption: GAINING THE KNOWLEDGE: Rob Hewitt (far left), who survived four days in the sea near Kapiti Island some years ago, and Rotorua-based Pererika Makiha (far right) ran a Coastguard training course for 30 people in Gisborne over the weekend. The aim of the course was to raise potential crews' nautical qualifications so people are ready once Gisborne’s educational waka hourua Tairāwhiti is home after a launch in September or October. Pictures supplied

The launch of Tairāwhiti Voyaging Trust’s educational waka hourua is in sight.

There has been great progress with the double-hulled waka named Tairāwhiti and over the weekend 30 people keen to be volunteer crew took part in Coastguard training courses.

Trust chief executive Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp said the courses were for day skipper, maritime VHF radio operator and basic sea/water survival certificates. Nine participants completed the Maritime Restricted Radio Operator Certificate.

“Two friends came here to run the courses, held from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime – Rob Hewitt, who survived four days in the sea near Kapiti Island some years ago, and Pererika Makiha from Rotorua.”

The aim of the course was to raise potential crews' nautical qualifications so people are ready once Gisborne’s waka is launched.

Mr Nepia-Clamp said although cold for the basic sea survival practical, everything went well. He visits the Auckland boat-builder’s yard at regular intervals to monitor progress.

“I have been going up every time there is a significant development. Tairāwhiti is now three-quarters complete.”

One hull is totally fitted out with bulkheads, bunks and shelving, and the other hull is about to be fitted out.

“The crossbeams, rigging, spars, booms and masts are all finished and the steering paddle is in production. The cabin is 90 percent complete.

“Since starting on the major construction, they have been very busy in the boat yard. Initially we had to wait a bit for workshop space because they had so many jobs on, but once they started Tairāwhiti, they have been ripping into it.”

The launch of the waka is anticipated to be in September or October in Auckland.

“When a completion date is confirmed, we will arrange the launch to have the best possible representation at the occasion. We will hope to strike a date when the most people can attend.”

After the launch will be sea trials.

“Once the boat yard and the trust are happy with Tairāwhiti’s performance during the sea trials, we will wait for a weather window to bring Tairāwhiti home.”


Tairāwhiti Voyaging Trust’s twin-hulled voyaging canoe will be a floating classroom providing a water-based Outward Bound-type adventure. The trust has raised $1.2 million for the project. Education will focus around the region’s unique voyaging history, with a scientific component on conservation and sustaining the oceans.

The waka hourua will become an integral component of the Tairāwhiti Navigations Project. Tairāwhiti will play an essential role in the thousand-year celebration of Polynesian/Maori voyaging planned to take place in 2019, a week before the Te Hā 250th anniversary of Cook’s Endeavour arrival. The trust’s vision is for the waka to be available to every school student in Tairāwhiti and, by association, connect every family. It is envisaged that during the school holidays the waka hourua will be tourism-focused to help fund its maintenance.

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