Hapu: World Cup waka won't be sold

By Yvonne Tahana

An artist's impression of the waterfront waka. Photo / Supplied
An artist's impression of the waterfront waka. Photo / Supplied

An Auckland hapu says it will not be selling a $2 million taxpayer-funded waka after the Rugby World Cup,despite documents revealing it was considering the option.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei contributed $100,000 towards the giant 75m waka, which will be used to promote Maori culture during the rugby tournament.

On Saturday the Weekend Herald revealed that the tribe's corporate chief executive, Tiwana Tibble, wrote in documents: "Our fallback position isto sell or demolish the waka in February 2012 and therefore exit from this investment whilst still having positive funds in the bank."

The tribe did not respond to Herald questions until yesterday.

A statement by Mr Tibble said: "That report was penned a long time ago at a time when the waka was a concept.

"We are much further into the project. The opportunities surrounding the waka during the RWC and post RWC are much clearer now.

"The fallback was just a contemplation of one of the options that was possible. We now know from the interest we have there are many positive options for its future use.

"The waka will not be sold."

National Urban Maori Authority spokesman John Tamihere said the authority would buy the waka if the tribe did not want it.

But he added that any talk of selling the waka would have been a poor look, because of the taxpayer investment.

"You've got someone who is looking a gift horse in the mouth. It doesn't look ungrateful - it looks very greedy."

Meanwhile, Ngai Tai representative Emily Karaka said it was a "slap in the face" that other Tamaki Makaurau iwi had not been involved in the waka project.

But Mr Tibble said other iwi had the same opportunity to pitch ideas to the Government.

"We did and it was accepted. The event is called Waka Maori, which is an inclusive banner, and we have enjoyed the support of many iwi for taking the lead to create something of stature for all Maori."

Hapu sources say Ngarimu Blair, who worked on the waka project, has resigned as heritage manager but continues to work at the tribe's corporate entity.

Mr Tibble said: "Ngarimu's position ... has nothing to do with this conversation about Waka Maori."

- NZ Herald

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