Waka helps steer port and hapu in same direction

By Roger Moroney

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Hawke's Bay Regional Council environmental officer Te Kaha Hawaikirangi speaks of the significance of Pania and the reef to Napier Port waka guests  Kristen Lie (left), Viv Bull, Bruce Lochhead and Andrew Locke.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council environmental officer Te Kaha Hawaikirangi speaks of the significance of Pania and the reef to Napier Port waka guests Kristen Lie (left), Viv Bull, Bruce Lochhead and Andrew Locke.

For the Napier Port senior management "crew" the scene was well and truly set to hear the legendary stories of Pania and her son Moremore this week.

The seas of Hawke Bay were calm and the tales intriguing and colourful - and they were delivered from the deck of the waka Te Matau a Maui which had been sailed out to the Pania Reef.

A waka that now possessed a new hoe urangi (steering paddle) which had been been named "Moremore of the Old World" at a ceremony last Sunday morning - Moremore being the son of Pania who is linked to local hapu Ngati Parau.

Several members of the hapu were at the ceremony on Sunday and also took part in Monday's voyage.

The voyage had been set up between Napier Port and the Te Matau a Maui Trust which oversees the waka and the timing for it was perfect, port communications adviser Breanna Cullen said.

The main reason was for port staff to gain an appreciation and to fully understand the cultural significance of the Pania Reef and the wider inner harbour area.

"We have a wharf development proposal on the table and it was seen as crucial that senior management understand the significance of the region."

A memorandum of understanding had been forged between Napier Port and Te Matau a Maui Trust and the link was a strong one.

Port management contacted trust chief executive Phillip Smith with a proposal for senior staff to meet with local hapu, and Mr Smith put the voyage together. It was well timed, because it came the day after the new steering paddle was blessed, as well as on a calm and still sea.

The port had contributed to the cost of the new paddle and makes its facilities available to the waka trust for any maintenance work.

"We were incredibly privileged to go aboard the waka and hear the stories," Ms Cullen said. "It is critical we understand that (cultural) side of it but it was quite another thing to experience it in this way."

She said it was a first time for some of the management team to experience the waka at sea and, after the two-hour voyage, all agreed it would not be the last.

The wharf development would be the port's biggest single investment since it was established.

Costing more than $50 million, chief executive Garth Cowie said it was needed to cope with increasing cargo volumes and bigger ships.

The proposal for the new berth, north of the current container terminal, is subject to public consultation and a raft of reports commissioned.

The new berth would require extensive dredging, the amount of which was yet to be determined.

If resource consent is granted, which will be applied for by the end of the year, the dredged depth would go to 14.5m from the current 12.8m and the shipping channel extended.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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