The first of two waka to be housed in the wharewaka on the Wellington waterfront has been formally blessed at a dawn ceremony in the capital.
Following a lengthy dispute, it was decided earlier this year that the waka commissioned by Wellington City Council would stay with the Lower Hutt based-iwi that built it.
A new waka, Te Hononga, was funded by The Wellington Community Trust and built in Northland. The vessel was carved from a swamp kauri log.
After the dawn ceremony on Saturday, an 18-strong crew took Te Hononga on its maiden voyage.
City councillor Paul Eagle says the waka will add greatly to the atmosphere in the city and on the waterfront during the Rugby World Cup.
A second vessel, a waka taua (war canoe) funded by Wellington City Council, is expected to arrive in the capital by early September.
The wharewaka was opened on Waitangi Day.