7 May 2013

Waka-shaped pavilion on show at America's Cup

7:29 pm on 7 May 2013

The Waka Maori, a giant canoe-shaped pavilion, will be visible to hundreds of thousands of people a day during the Americas' Cup in San Francisco.

The pavilion was built for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and attracted more than 400,000 visitors to Auckland's waterfront during that event.

The Government's decision to spend almost $2 million of taxpayer money on the structure was controversial at the time.

However Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the Waka Maori attracted more than 400,000 visitors to Auckland's waterfront during the Rugby World Cup.

Originally commissioned by central Auckland hapu Ngati Whatua o Orakei, the Waka Maori is 70 metres long and can hold about 300 people. Hapu spokesperson Tupara Morrison says assembling the pavilion has been a huge task.

He says Ngati Whatua Orakei is happy to be supporting Team New Zealand's campaign to win the America's Cup and members of the hapu helped to bless the ground where the pavilion now sits.

Mr Morrison says the Waka Maori is visible from San Francisco's Oakland Bridge, which is crossed by 300,000 people every day and the structure will be a centrepiece of the Team New Zealand base on San Francisco's Pier 32 .

Dr Sharples says the waka was built to ensure there is a Maori presence at international events.

He says it is an expression of pride in Maori culture, and represents a long history of ocean voyages.