Māori war canoe ready for Passchendaele commemorations

By Heeni Brown
  • Auckland
  • Wellington

Tamahou Temara of Toi Māori Aotearoa is preparing a Māori war canoe, which will take part in New Zealand's National 100 year Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele.

Temara says being part of an international forum will help create more opportunities for Māori. 

He says, "The canoe will be taken there by New Zealand's Mainfreight and the people of Belgium will get the opportunity to experience what being Māori is all about, in the context of the commemorations."

Eight experienced Māori paddlers from New Zealand will lead the canoe called "Te Hono ki Aotearoa" with paddlers from the Njord Royal Rowing Club from Leiden, Netherlands.

"The people chosen are experienced and active paddlers, so for us taking the international stage gives us the opportunity to portray our Māori culture and beliefs to the world."

War canoe 'Te Hono Ki Aotearoa' was given on permanent loan to Leiden's Museum Volkenkunde.
 
Since the canoe's inception in the late 2000s, not only has it helped build a stronger relationship with New Zealand's historical connection to the Dutch, it has also made it easier for Māori participation in New Zealand events throughout Europe.  
 
"Some of our paddlers have a direct connection to those who participated in World War 1, not only in the Battle of Passchendaele, but the Battle of Somme, Africa and all those places. It's something our paddlers feel spiritually and can connect with those ancestors they do have in Belgium."

Tomorrow the Māori fleet leaves for Belgium, to take part in the Commemorations for the Battle of Passchendaele, at Menin Gate next Wednesday.