Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world's largest ceremonial waka, is sheltered under Te Korowai ō Maikuku near Hobson Beach.
Waka have always played a vital role in Māori culture, essential for travel and uniquely constructed and carved as symbolic representations of each iwi (tribe).
Ngātokimatawhaorua was built to mark the centenary of the Treaty of Waitangi’s signing in 1940 and was built by members of New Zealand’s northern and Waikato iwi (tribes). The waka is launched every year in February as part of Waitangi Day commemorations.
Kupe, the legendary discoverer of Aotearoa New Zealand sailed a waka hourua (double-hulled waka) named Matawhaorua. Following his return to the Pacific from New Zealand, his grandson Nukutawhiti later re-adzed the waka. He added ‘nga toki’, meaning ‘the adzes’ to the name, creating the name of Ngātokimatawhaorua and sailed it back to New Zealand. The ceremonial waka Ngātokimatawhaorua is named in honour of this vessel.
Ngātokimatawhaorua was used in the Waitangi Day centenary commemorations in 1940 and was then laid up for 34 years in a shelter alongside Te Whare Rūnanga on the Upper Treaty Grounds. In 1974 the waka was renovated for Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Waitangi and the current shelter, Te Korowai ō Maikuku, was built to house it near Hobson Beach. Ngātokimatawhaorua was designated Her Majesty’s Ship, which theoretically makes it part of her Royal Navy.