Mayor Committed to Return of Waka

3 February 2011

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says it is disappointing that the waka Te Raukura will not be part of the Wharewaka opening celebrations on Waitangi Day.

The parties involved in negotiations for the return of the waka, Wellington City Council, Te Wharewaka O Poneke Charitable Trust and Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui Association, are yet to reach agreement.

However the Mayor says the lack of the waka's immediate presence will not stop the opening of the Wharewaka and the celebrations planned for Sunday.

Celebrations will include stage entertainment (kapa haka performances, Toni Huata), two ceremonial waka - Mataatua Toroa and Hinemoana - on the harbour, games and stories for children and kai stalls.

"The important thing is that we are opening a significant new addition to Wellington's waterfront that reflects the city's commitment to mana whenua,'' says Mayor Wade-Brown.

"Although it would be lovely to have Te Raukura there it is not essential on the day and the celebrations will still go ahead, the Wharewaka will still function and of course it will be the centrepiece for our Rugby World Cup 2011 fan zone.

"I fully support the actions of  Sir Ngatata Love and Te Wharewaka O Poneke Trust,  and the discussions with Te Runanganui o Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui Association will continue.

"The Council is committed to having the waka returned to the people of Wellington.''

The Wharewaka will house a cafe, exhibition space, function rooms, carvings and interactive historical displays.

Te Raukura was commissioned and paid for by the Council in 1990 for the sesqui celebrations. Unfortunately the waka suffered water damage to its hull and the Council agreed to move it temporarily to Waiwhetu for restoration until an appropriate whare could be constructed.