6 Feb 2014

Weather dampens waka sailing

8:41 pm on 6 February 2014

Wet weather and choppy seas dampened what was to have been a highlight of Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi - a massed waka sailing.

One of the waka crews.

One of the waka crews. Photo: RNZ

Six hundred paddlers in at least 14 waka were to have brought the canoes on to Te Tii Beach to hold karakia (prayers) and perform a mass haka before sailing in formation around the bay on Thursday.

However, bad weather on the 174th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi meant only a fraction of that number sailed.

Nga Waka Federation chair Robert Gabel says for the paddlers, being on a waka reminds them of their history. "For a lot of them, it's helping them identify with their ancestors and their tupuna."

Paddlers from the Netherlands, Germany, the United States and Canada were to take part in the waka pageant.

A waka crew goes through their drill.

A waka crew goes through their drill. Photo: RNZ