Tairāwhiti waka hourua sails for the first time

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The waka hourua Tairāwhiti, a unique double-hulled waka that uses a special coconut oil and diesel motor, has made its first sail out of Auckland.

"The coconut oil burns cleaner than the diesel but we use so little anyway- that two litres every hour I think- and so even if we are running on diesel from time to time the carbon footprint is minimal," says Te Aturangi Nepia-Clamp, CEO of the Tairāwhiti Voyaging Trust.

Seeing the waka launch into the water for its very first voyage was a dream come true for Nepia-Clamp.

"It was an emotional moment.  It was a 27-year dream to have this happen, to actually secure a waka for the Tairāwhiti so it was very emotional for me but very spiritual too and just full of joy," says Nepia-Clamp.

The Trust had to raise the $1.2mil to build the waka hourua with the intention to use it as a floating classroom and musem for Tairāwhiti.

"The idea is that we want to teach our young people about our voyaging ancestors- Polynesian, Māori and European- and this is the perfect vessel, the perfect waka to be able to do that.  We can teach all sorts of nautical skills and while we're teaching the nautical skills, ingrained in that is the core subjects in schools."

The waka can hold up to 18 people and has a fibreglass hull with pohutukawa decking, including wood sourced from Hawaii and Tokomaru Bay.