Waitangi Day in Porirua an eclectic affair
It was nearly 30 years ago since the Green Flame was last seen paddled on the water, but it was once again a crowd favourite this Waitangi Day in Porirua.
Renovations of the Toa Te Ahi Ka¯ka¯riki waka finally came together to the delight of the estimated 10,000 people celebrating on the edges of Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour.
For Porirua resident, and kaitakitaki (waka leader), Hohepa Potini, the moment 30 members of his Nga¯ti Toa iwi took to the water was a proud one.
He and other family members were part of the crew who paddled the waka during the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1990.
‘‘It has brought back so many memories and emotions.
‘‘My uncles who were on it 27 years ago, when they saw it today, I could see they were welling up.
‘‘There was a lot of emotion and history out there today, it really feels good, it’s really uplifting.’’
It truly was a family affair as carver Nathan Rei completed the rauawa, with brother Alma, while Herman Saltzman finished the taurapa (sternpost). Pedro Busby also helped with the carving, and Nelson Solomon shaped and carved the hoe (paddles).
There was plenty to do and see for the thousands who descended on the Wi Neera Dr festival, appropriately themed around waka ama.
But it wasn’t just a day to celebrate the coming together of two cultures, Ma¯ori and Pakeha.
Cook Island, Fiji, Tokelau/ Atafu performances - including indigenous dances from sister city, Blacktown, Australia - highlighted the community’s multicultural background.
In Wellington, hundreds lined Whairepo Lagoon to watch crews of the three Ma¯ori waka - Te Rerenga Ko¯tare, Te Hononga, and Poutu - demonstrate the waka salute.