Waka spec­tac­u­lar planned for har­bour


‘‘We can tell a re­ally big story that will, I hope, em­brace so many peo­ple.’’

Welling­ton har­bour will be the stun­ning set­ting for the launch of next year’s New Zealand Fes­ti­val, or­gan­is­ers have re­vealed.

A fleet of waka will glide into the har­bour at dusk on Fe­bru­ary 23, to be greeted by a karanga from ac­tors, choirs, and a thou­sand-strong haka led by Te Ati Awa to mark the open­ing of the bi­en­nial fes­ti­val.

A Waka Odyssey will see seven waka hou­rua (dou­ble ca­noes), eight waka taua (war ca­noes) and fleet of waka ama from around NZ help­ing re-tell New Zealand’s ori­gin story, the nav­i­ga­tion through the South Pa­cific to these two is­lands at the bot­tom of the ocean. The ‘‘the­atri­cal powhiri’’ will in­clude Trin­ity Roots mu­si­cian War­ren Maxwell play­ing a full mu­si­cal score which will be re­layed around the har­bour.

The fes­ti­val’s artis­tic direc­tor, She­lagh Ma­gadza, said she en­vi­sions tens of thou­sands of peo­ple con­gre­gat­ing at the Welling­ton wa­ter­front and as the city and har­bour play cen­tre stage.

‘‘This cap­tures so many things that are about the best kind of sto­ry­telling,’’ Ma­gadza said.

‘‘It goes right back to the story of man, how we dis­cov­ered the stars, how to tame na­ture and use its forces to get us where we wanted to (go) but it’s so specif­i­cally the Pa­cific story and it’s tied up so deeply into the cul­tures of NZ, not only the Maori cul­tures but the Pa­cific and the Pakeha cul­tures.

‘‘It’s got that re­ally epic, heroic story be­hind it - all the mytholo­gies and sto­ries about how the waka came to NZ and then the dif­fer­ent way of mi­gra­tion that came af­ter.

‘‘What I love about it is that it is still a story hap­pen­ing to­day, and there’s a real life part of the story that you can touch and feel and ex­pe­ri­ence for your­self.’’

A Waka Odyssey runs over five days with a se­ries of events, in­clud­ing a whanau day on Fe­bru­ary 24 at Pe­tone Beach where fam­i­lies can get close up with the waka and meet the crew, as well as other free ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer in Welling­ton.

Ma­gadza sug­gested the best view­ing spots to be in front of Te Papa and the boat­shed head­ing down to­ward Frank Kitts Park.

‘‘By us­ing the waka and turn­ing them lit­er­ally into a piece of theatre on the har­bour and on the land, we can tell a re­ally big story that will, I hope, em­brace so many peo­ple,’’ she said.

The cre­ative di­rec­tors be­hind the work in­clude mas­ter nav­i­ga­tor, scholar, and Haunui cap­tain Ho­turoa Bar­clay-Kerr, award-win­ning direc­tor Anna Mar­brook, and in­ter­na­tional artist and de­signer Ka­sia Pol.

Among other shows an­nounced for next year’s Fes­ti­val, the last un­der Ma­gadza’s di­rec­tor­ship, are Inua El­lams’ play about the in­ter­ac­tions of men in bar­ber shops world­wide - The Bar­ber Shop Chron­i­cles - fresh from a sold-out run at the Na­tional Theatre in Lon­don, and early mu­sic pi­o­neer Jordi Savall’s group He­spe`rion XXI cross­over col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mex­i­can/ South Amer­i­can group Tem­be­mbe En­sam­ble Con­tinuo.

The New Zealand Fes­ti­val runs from Fe­bru­ary 23 to March 18.


This photo of Te Mana o te Moana, the ar­rival of the waka fleet to the Fes­ti­val of Pa­cific Arts in the Solomon Is­lands, might be sim­i­lar to what Welling­ton Har­bour would look like. She­lagh Ma­gadza

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