13 Oct 2011

Controversial waka pavilion set to open

1:30 pm on 13 October 2011

The controversial waka-shaped pavilion on Auckland's waterfront will be officially opened on Thursday night.

The structure - more than 70 metres long and 16 metres high - will host Maori muscians and a rugby exhibition.

Waka Maori project director Renata Blair says he would have liked to open the Maori showcase event earlier and possibly with more sponsors.

But he says the project was hurt when it was politicised by the Labour MP Shane Jones, who described it as a blow-up waka, and some companies were put off investing in the concept.

Despite this, Mr Blair says, Waka Maori will open on time and on budget, and he would like to take it overseas at a later date.

Mr Jones could not be reached for comment.