A traditional, colourful and nautical addition to the Tremain Art Deco Weekend arrived to the sound of song and a haka powhiri at the Ahuriri inner harbour yesterday.

Ngati Kahungunu's traditional sailing waka, of the Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust, glided impressively and majestically in from the open sea just after 9am, accompanied by four paddled waka ama for a special welcome.

It will be part of the weekend festivities, providing a two-hour experience of a voyage aboard, a traditional waiata and haka and the opportunity for people wanting to hear the history of Napier and Hawke's Bay, and of Maori legend.

While tickets will be sold at $75 for the voyage and entertainment expeditions, the "Waka Central" base which will be set up on the grounds of the Napier Sailing Club will be open free to the public where they can take in exhibits that depict significant local stories and people.

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The latest addition to the Art Deco line-up is a project led by the trust and involves a number of other local providers and groups including Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc, Ngati Paarau (Awa Studios), William Colenso High School, Te Ara Hou, Pukemokimoki Marae, Te Whanganui o Orotu, Band, the Art Deco Trust and the Napier City Council (through the Community Planning team).

About 150 people were on hand to welcome the waka, which arrived to conch shells sounding and singing from aboard and ashore.

People lined the West Quay docks and many watched from their motel and townhouse balconies.

Those aboard the waka represented the ages.

Traditional Maori dress and the European-ised dress Maori adopted.

And modern attire, with a touch of Art Deco, courtesy of Napier Mayor Bill Dalton and his wife Shirley.

As the waka was tied up Ngati Kahungunu Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana led the crew and guests aboard in a song of arrival.

After the welcoming powhiri, a waiata and a karakia by the Ngati Kahungunu taiwhenua, Mr Dalton spoke.

"This is absolutely wonderful to have our Maori brothers and sisters participating with us for Art Deco weekend," he said.

"It is terrific for Art Deco and terrific for Napier," Mr Dalton said.

Mr Tomoana then led the guests in a song of reply and strummed into a jaunty rendition of Side By Side which even had the assembled spectators singing along. Art Deco Trust general manager Sally Jackson said ticket sales for the weekend voyages had been strong - especially from overseas visitors who had heard they were taking place. "There has been a lot of interest because it is a nice link back to the heritage of Napier," she said.

"The waka experience showcases the history of local Maori legend and an insight into the life for local Maori before the 1931 earthquake."