Waka cast adrift from main RWC party base

By Bernard Orsman

The Waka won't be a part of 'Party Central', instead it will be located at the Viaduct Harbour. Photo / Supplied
The Waka won't be a part of 'Party Central', instead it will be located at the Viaduct Harbour. Photo / Supplied

The $2 million plastic waka will not be set up at the Rugby World Cup "Party Central" on Queens Wharf, but further along the Auckland waterfront at the Viaduct Harbour.

On Wednesday, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said the waka would be located "close to Queens Wharf", but did not mention Te Wero Island at the viaduct.

Yesterday, the Auckland hapu that will own the waka, Ngati Whatua o Orakei, confirmed the Viaduct location and released more details about its construction and purpose.

It has been funded largely by Te Puni Kokiri. Ngati Whatua is contributing $100,000 to the $1,988,000 project.

Ngati Whatua project manager Renata Blair acknowledged the waka had some critics but he was overwhelmed by people getting in touch and saying "good on you" and "make it special".

One opponent, Act leader Rodney Hide, said to "give away $1.9 million to have a waka that the people of New Zealand won't even own is appalling".

Labour MP Shane Jones labelled it the "tupperwaka", saying it was a joke that the Government forked out nearly $2 million for the project.

It is understood that a number of locations were suggested and Ngati Whatua preferred Te Wero Island.

The spot, now being used as a carpark, is due to be landscaped for the cup by Waterfront Auckland at a cost of $1.2 million. A temporary bridge is being built to link Te Wero Island with the first raft of public projects at Wynyard Quarter.

The Te Wero Island location was considered by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), the Auckland Council body responsible for Rugby World Cup planning, and confirmed on March 14.

ATEED is working with Ngati Whatua on permits and resource consent to set up the waka at the viaduct.

Mr Blair said concept and design work on the waka began last August. He said calling it plastic was a little wayward; its skin would be made of a special membrane, similar to that used on the $9.8 million "Cloud" at Party Central, and the ribs made of laminated timber.

It was designed to be taken apart after the cup and put into two shipping containers with a view to being used for other events around the world.

"The building itself is not a waka, it is a pavilion in the general shape of a waka. We have been quite mindful of the need for cultural sensitivity."

Mr Blair said the waka would be used to create opportunities for Maori businesses and would be a place where guitars would be brought out and people could experience Maori culture.

Street events would also be held around the waka; visitors could meet former All Blacks and Maori All Blacks and learn waiata and how to use poi.

- NZ Herald

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