How it started

The Shed - - Waka building -

Po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions of­ten have far­reach­ing ef­fects.

When Amer­i­can pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush de­cided to in­vade Iraq in 2004, it set off a tail­spin of events for the Roake fam­ily that in­di­rectly led to Quentin’s waka project. At the time, Quentin was liv­ing in the UK with his wife, Frankie, and their three chil­dren. He had just fin­ished restor­ing their 1480 Tu­dor manor and the plan was to sell it and, with the pro­ceeds, move back to New Zealand. Quentin’s dream was to buy a coastal prop­erty and build a 48foot (15m) ketch with his brother. The manor went on the mar­ket the day that Amer­i­can troops went into Iraq. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously the value of the house, along with their sav­ings in Eu­ros, plum­meted and the value of a Kiwi ‘safe haven’ went up. “We lost al­most ev­ery­thing,” he says. The ketch plan was aban­doned. There was just enough money to build a strip-plank Cana­dian ca­noe in the garage. But a visit to Okains Bay Ma¯ori and Colo­nial Mu­seum on Banks Penin­sula six weeks af­ter re­turn­ing to New Zealand led Quentin to re­think his plans. In­spired by the waka on dis­play, he says that he thought, “Why would I build a North Amer­i­can–type ca­noe when these have evolved here?”

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