Waka gets $93,000 launching ramp
‘‘We're one of the cities that celebrate Waitangi Day really, really well. ’’
A 37-person waka tangata will be launched down a new $93,000 ramp at Porirua Harbour on Waitangi Day.
The city council began rebuilding the ramp, off Wi Neera Dr at Takapu¯wa¯hia, in December and it will be finished early next year.
In the meantime, Nga¯ti Toa’s large 37-person waka is being restored so it will be ready for launching for the first time in years. It is expected to be one of dozens out on the water on February 6.
Ora Toa Mauriora manager and Toa Waka Ama Club member Trini Ropata said the new ramp will be safer and easier for everyone.
Ora Toa Mauriora runs Waitech, which is the waka ama in schools programme.
‘‘It will be so good once it’s done,’’ Ropata said. ‘‘ We can’t wait. It’s going to be great and I see a lot more people using it.’’
Along with Waitangi Day celebrations, the public will be able to use the ramp, which launches directly north at a gentle gradient.
The ramp rebuilding project is a partnership between the Takapu¯wa¯hia community and the council.
Porirua was home to the country’s biggest Waitangi Day celebration outside of Waitangi, the Festival of the Elements, but this ended in 2017 as the 30,000-strong crowd grew too big for the volunteers running it at Te Rauparaha Park.
Mayor Mike Tana said in 2018 the festival will have a new focus and will be located around TeAwarua-o-Porirua Harbour.
‘‘We’re launching a new event, which will focus on the Treaty of Waitangi and our harbour,’’ Tana said.
‘‘We’re going back to the essence of what Waitangi Day is all about and celebrating what makes us unique as a country and as a region.’’
Nga¯ti Toa Rangatira kaumatua Taku Parai said it would be a celebration ‘‘of what our ancestors signed in 1840’’.
‘‘We’re one of the cities that celebrate Waitangi Day really, really well. Our people will get in behind it and support it, big time – whether it’s story telling, art, weaving, kapa haka, music and song or waka.’’