Regional | Waka

Ngāti Kurī celebrates its first wahine master waka builder

Ngāti Kurī in the Far North is celebrating its first wahine master waka builder, Hine Waitai-Dye.

It caps a remarkable period for the Muriwhenua iwi, which has opened its purpose-built whare housing waka, the first of its kind in generations.

Waitai-Dye is well known throughout the waka-building world, having been taught by famed master builder Tā Hekenukumai Busby.

Waitai-Dye has spent the past year honing her skills at Ngā Tapuwae o Te Waka in Muriwhenua, a school dedicated to building traditional waka, and on the weekend she was given the title of master builder. According to her mother Sheridan, Hine is the by-product of her people, Ngāti Kurī.

“Hine results from a hundred loves and a hundred faces, so we call that matarau, he matarau. So, she is a mokopuna with over a hundred faces.”

Whare waka opened

For Waitai-Dye, the goal is simple: revitalising traditional Māori ocean navigation, following in the legacy of experts.

“We’ve been all around the world to honour our Papa Hector, and honour his connections, build waka with these people and learn from them. But bringing waka home and kaupapa waka back to the kāinga is a massive highlight.”

Ngāti Kurī also celebrated the opening of its whare waka. They put the call out to iwi from around the country for assistance and Rua Whetū, the Ngāti Whātua carving school, answered that call.

Walter Ashby says the highlight was seeing the many different and unique skills being used.

“This is an amazing project, building this whare waka. It has brought together many different disciplines, such as carving, weaving, and traditional painting, under a single umbrella.”