May 14, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Waka bound for Waitangi missing at sea

3 min read received a panui from Raukawa Comerford from the NZ Maritime Operations Centre (Maritime Radio/Taupo Maritime Radio) who are trying to locate the Waka “Nuku Tai Ao” who departed Wellington 1st Feb from Seaview bound for Waitangi.

The NZ Police were phoned yesterday from relatives ashore concerned for the Waka whereabouts. We believe Nuku Tai Ao have all necessary safety gear on board and are only wanting to reassure loved ones ashore that everyone onboard are well by ascertaining a position from the Skipper.

NZ Maritime Operations Centre are currently calling the vessel every 4 hours on CHL 16 on a number of our VHF sites up the East Coast of the North Island, but have had no contact with Nuku Tai Ao.

If you know of anyone who are in regular contact with the Waka or people on board could you please ask the Skipper to contact Maritime Radio on VHF CHL 16 or phone the Maritime Operations Centre on 0800 MARITIME (0800 627 484) 24hrs.


(Source | On July 20, 2010, the 11-metre long vessel was blessed and lowered into the water using the 50-tonne travel lift more used to handling modern yachts and launches.

The following day, at a ceremony at a mooring near Te Papa, it was given the name Nuku Taiao, a shortened version of the name of an ancestor common to a number of tribes, and words that also suggest ‘transformation’.

Master carver Dr Takirirangi Smith said work started on the project 18 months ago in the Wairarapa, where the hulls were built from laminated macrocarpa.

The waka building team included some of the country’s experts in both construction and sailing, Dr Smith said.

Both Tipua Reedy, who was involved with waka Aotearoa 1 and Te Aurere, and Stanley Conrad, skipper of Te Aurere a double hulled canoe built by Hec Busby that has done many voyages throughout the Pacific have been on site adding their skills.

The aim for the Hutt waka is for it to become a community asset.

Its purpose is for people interested in sailing traditional waka to come and learn. It will also help to maintain the traditions and culture of the Maori people for the benefit of their self-esteem.”

While the sails are built to ancestral design, the materials are modern.

“Sails used to be made out of flax and similar material but it’s not feasible these days as they don’t last long,” Dr Smith said.

One of the benefits of having the waka based at Seaview would be the ease of use, Stanley Conrad said.

“On a nice day you can get out and have a bit of fun with it, get the young people involved, that sort of thing. It’s a good way to hook them into their Maoritanga – it’s an awesome tool.”

“They brought the kohanga reo kids down here recently,” said Tipua Reedy. “That visit will be an important imprint on their minds. In this setting it also impresses on them that these waka are not just museum pieces to be looked at, they are useable vessels to be sailed.”

Hutt man Wiremu Tuhura was delighted to be part of a project team that drew members from a number of regions of the North Island. He said he’d recently lost his construction job in Wellington and heard about work on the waka hourua.

He was then able to teach rope lashing and in turn learn traditional carving from the likes of Sam Hauwaho.

There’s talk of a long-distance voyage on Nuku Taiao next year.

2 thoughts on “Waka bound for Waitangi missing at sea

  1. Good news received – Maritime safety are in regular contact with the crew of Nuku Tai Ao who have revised their ETA to Waitangi estimat arrival now 8 February.

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