Waitangi Day 2010 celebrates special anniversary
05 Feb 2010
When the world’s biggest waka takes to the waters tomorrow (6.02.10) for New Zealand’s national Waitangi Day, one New Zealander will celebrate another special anniversary.
Glass Murray, a retired engineer, is the last living member of the crew who paddled the waka or ceremonial Māori canoe Ngatoki during the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi - New Zealand’s founding document - on 6 February, 1940.
This year, 86-year-old Murray and his wife Ngawini have been camping at a special "paddlers’ area" at Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands, in the lead-up to the national celebration.
Waitangi Day 2010 is also the 70th birthday of the waka that will take centre stage during the celebration.
Originally named Ngatokimatawhaorua but now commonly referred to as Ngatoki, the waka was commissioned by Princess Te Puea of Tainui - the Māori tribe from the Waikato region, south of Auckland - for the 1940 commemoration.
Glass Murray paddled the waka as a young lad of 17 when he was one of 50-plus paddlers who took it from its original berth on the Kerikeri River to Waitangi.
Murray, a member of the Te Aupouri tribe, says he sat in a group with paddlers from other tribes of the same Far North region.
The biggest challenge for the team was negotiating hairpin bends downriver, but it was made easier by the presence of three experienced kaihautu / leaders to keep an eye on the novice rowers.
2010 is the Year of the Waka and to celebrate this on Waitangi Day, the largest fleet of waka in recorded history will provide a living spectacle on the water in front of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
The gathering of up to 30 waka will be the highlight of a series of special events, and organisers are expecting a capacity crowd.
The traditional Māori canoes will mostly come from the northern Te Tai Tokerau region and the Waikato.
Background: Waitangi Day
Every year on February 6, New Zealand focuses on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document.
The day opens with an official ceremony, performance and parade by the Royal New Zealand Navy and local cultural groups, as well as a variety of sports and cultural events.
Waka fleet to celebrate Waitangi Day
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Celebrating Waitangi Day
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