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He Kaupapa Waka opens

June 7, 2023

He Kaupapa Waka is the newest exhibition to feature at Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Given there have been no new exhibitions in over a year due to Covid-19, the curatorial team are very excited to have He Kaupapa Waka on display from February 7.

The exhibition presents photos taken at Waitangi Day 2020, which marked the 80th anniversary of the launch of Ngātokimatawhaorua - the waka taua (war canoe) built for the centennial of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1940.

Photographer Te Rawhitiroa Bosch captured images of the fleet of waka, the kaihoe (paddlers) and those off the water which came to Waitangi to mark the anniversary – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern from her waka voyage at Waitangi. A story by rangatahi (youth) from Te Kura o Waiakare about their voyage with the Prime Minister features alongside the images.

Two waka taua (war canoes) will fill the centre of the gallery – these waka are very significant given they were the last to be created under master carver Tā Hekenukumai Pūhipi (Sir Hec Busby). Famed New Zealand musician Tiki Taane has collaborated on He Kaupapa Waka by creating a soundscape to set the tone of the exhibition.

Alongside the photographs taken from Waitangi Day 2020, a series of images documenting the creation of Ngātokimatawhaorua - from the felling of the tree, the carving, through to the launch in 1940 will be on display.

A photo collection and reflections from the last surviving crew member of the 1940 maiden voyage, Kaumātua Eru Patuone Heperi, will add a unique insight.

Eru is the son of Pita Te Hoe Heperi, one of the master carvers responsible for carving Ngātokimatawhaorua. He was the youngest kaihoe (paddler) on the 1940 voyage and 80 years later at 92-years-old he was the oldest crew member at Waitangi in 2020.

A number of photos in the exhibition are from the voyage of Mātaatua Puhi from Waitangi to Te Ngaere last year.

He Kaupapa Waka will be on display at Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi Exhibition Gallery.