Reduced funding puts strain on paddlers' Waitangi prep

By Tema Hemi
  • Northland

A major feature of the annual Waitangi Day celebrations is the arrival of the waka fleet and the mass haka at Te Tii Bay in Waitangi.  However, waka paddlers from the Ngā Waka o Te Taitokerau Trust are concerned that their annual funding has been significantly reduced this year. 

Trust spokesperson Joe Conrad says the trust's funding has been reduced from around $50,000 to $30,000.

Conrad says the government has provided funding to the trust for Waitangi celebrations since 1974.  The money has been used for a range of materials, including hireage of marquees, mobile showers, toilets and food for the paddlers. 

Te Kaea contacted Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) and asked how much funding the trust receives each year and why the funding has been reduced but a spokesperson said they have no comment. 

However, TPK says they have been working cooperatively with the trust and their door remains open to them.

Conrad says, "Every year we constantly beg and crawl to try and maintain what we achieve around the world and present Waitangi as it is and support the signing of the Treaty and every year we have begged and crawled and sometimes argued to get the facilities to look after the multitude of people coming. 

"Well I found out about two days ago that we might not receive what we've asked for, which put huge stress on the planning.  I've been doing this kaupapa longer than they have been politicians, so if you are a politician holding me back think about what we have done, what uncle Hek has done, what all our kaupapa voyaging has done around the world.

"Money or no money, funding or no funding we will still make it a beautiful and memorable day."