I already have a history with the waka hourua (double hulled canoes).
In 2011 I was privileged to catch a ride on Gaulalofa. This year I spotted an advertisement on Facebook for Tirotiro Whetū, a free event offered as part of Matariki and was sponsored by AMI Insurance. The opportunity was too good to miss and so I jumped at the chance to ride another waka hourua.
We climbed aboard Aotearoa One for a special vessel for a three-hour sailing trip out on the Waitemata Harbour. Aotearoa One is a modern take on a traditional hourua (double hulled) waka and was launched in 2003 for Te Wananga o Aotearoa at their Mangere Campus in Auckland. This evening the boat was skippered by Dale and crewed by members of Te Toki Waka Hourua. The main message from Dale was ‘Don’t fall in the water.’
We set out from Orakei Marina and headed out into the Waitemata Harbour. The evening was cold and luckily we had been warned to come prepared. So I did with thermals, a hat, gloves, scarf and a waterproof jacket. On the way the sun went down and the sails were hoisted. We sailed past Auckland Business district to a beautiful display of fireworks for Bastille Day. The sun dipped lower and lower and with it the changing evening colours reflected in the clouds. Eventually we were in darkness and the city lights reflected on the water.
Unfortunately the sky was overcast but that did not stop the stories. We sailed under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Ataahua Papa, Matariki Festival Director for Auckland Council, explained the Vector Lights on Auckland Harbour Bridge. She narrated us through the light sequence. She explained how this year’s host iwi for Matariki Festival, Waikato-Tainui, created the stunning display of lights. More can be read here. The full sequence took just over eight minutes.
As we motored back Hoturoa Kerr shared his knowledge about traditional Maori and Polynesian culture and sailing methods. I loved hearing the stories of my ancestors. With the stories, we were served warm soup and a roll and then a mug of hot lemon drink. This came at a good time because by now the cold was settling in.
Finally we arrived back at the marina and disembarked.
My reflection, wow what an incredible experience going out at night on a waka hourua. I felt Manaakitanga as we were taken care of so well by the crew. I felt whanaungatanga as part of the events of Matariki that brings all of us together to share in an experience. I thought about my key word of Turangawaewae where I am learning more about who I am and my place in the world as I learn more about my past.
To everyone involved in the Matariki organisations for Auckland, thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for making this evening possible. To AMI Insurance, please continue with your awesome support within our community. To Ata and Hoturoa and the crew of Aoteroa One extra special thanks go out to you for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us.