Yesterday, Tauira Mai Tawhiti performed on stage at Te Matatini.

Today, they set sail in Hawkes Bay.

George Kingi of Tauira Mai Tawhiti says the voyage was a good chance to relax, "I think the whole couple of months' preparation for 25 minutes on the stage is heavy, so today is a chilled day and relaxed."

Anikaaro Harawira who also performed with Tauira Mai Tawhiti says it was a privilege.

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"Especially for us young ones, especially because it's an ancient art form."

It's just one way Māori can connect to their roots.

"A taste of what it would have been like for our tipuna cause a lot of our waiata is about our tipuna who came over on the waka," Mr Kingi says.

There are three waka currently moored in Hawkes Bay - Ngahiraka, Haunui and Te Matau a Māui, the last two are sister waka from the seven bought in 2011 for an environmental voyage.

Te Matau a Māui Voyaging Trust General Manager Wayne MacGillivray says, "The reason people are in Aotearoa is because of voyaging waka, so it's a really important aspect of Māori culture."

"So for us it's about aligning the performance aspects with what we do. The fact that there's three waka in town, its timing alone is beautiful."

Te Matau a Māui is also used year-round to teach young people about their cultural heritage... and hard work.

Pounamu Tipiwai-Chambers went to help out when the waka was hoisted up from Napier Port last October for its biannual maintenance.

"On the waka we try [to] do traditional navigation so we learnt about the stars and we learn about the different moons, sometimes about the tides," she says.

Now Te Matau a Māui is back in the ocean, with a fresh paint job and its solar panels can lap up the Hawke's Bay sun, powering the engines so the waka can set sail on more voyages.

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