National | Te Papa Museum

Major waka exhibitions open at Te Papa

Photo / Te Papa

Two new exhibitions celebrating waka have opened at Te Papa today.

They focus on the inspiring history of waka and the communities who keep the knowledge of waka voyaging alive today.

“Navigating the Pacific was one of the world’s great acts of exploration, and there is a thriving waka community in Aotearoa today,” says Te Papa Kaihautū, Dr Arapata Hakiwai.

“We are honoured to celebrate the waka community and its mātauranga at Te Papa.”

The Manu Rere Moana | Pacific Voyagers exhibition gives visitors an opportunity to learn about the knowledge and skill that enabled Māori to sail to Aotearoa in waka hourua (double-hulled waka) using celestial navigation.

Alongside this is He Kaupapa Waka | A Fleet of Waka, which celebrates the continued culture of waka taua, waka tētē and waka tangata, the elaborately-carved waka powered by dozens of kaihoe (paddlers) working in unison.

The side-by-side exhibitions feature photographs, video and immersive soundscapes that share the mātauranga and history of waka and their significance today.

The opening weekend features public talks, workshops and whānau activities, including the chance to see the waka hourua, Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti, on the Wellington waterfront.

A highlight of Saturday is a panel talk with ten original members of Te Aurere’s maiden voyage to Rarotonga in 1992.

This Sunday there is a free screening of Whetū Mārama: Bright Star, which features the story of Sir Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi (Hek Busby) and his significance in reclaiming the place of Māori as traditional star voyagers.