New waka 'dream come true'

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 13:00 11/03/2014
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MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
DAWN LAUNCH: Cooper Hope, left, Tara Hope and Carter Hope at the dawn ceremony for the blessing of Whakatu Maraeā€™s new waka fleet at Tahunanui Beach

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Four new waka for the Whakatu Marae are set to help promote Maori health in the region.

The waka were unveiled in a dawn ceremony this morning at Tahunanui beach.

About 70 people were at the ceremony for the marae's waka fleet which has grown from two to six.

The new waka, named Te Rotorito, Te Rotoroa, Te Kenepuru and Te Totara Nui, were blessed by Archdeacon Andy Joseph.

Patariki Hippolite from the Whakatu Marae said they would be used by the whole community, from at-risk youth to those competing in the national waka ama competitions.

He said they were funded by the marae as well as the Canterbury Community Trust, and were worth about $45,000.

They were made in the Far North.

Whakatu Marae chief executive Trevor Wilson said the waka were all about promoting health.

"It's just one of the ways we are raising awareness of Maori health and well-being.

Anyone can join waka ama, they are not age determinate. As long as you can pick up a paddle you can do it."

He said he felt like crying when they were unveiled. "It's pretty amazing to get them. It's a dream that came true."

Also at the ceremony was Rongomai Flavell. She said she had been involved with waka ama for 11 years and was at the event to support the marae.

"It's a special occasion, the blessing of new waka."

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