At the start of the year, Napier Port gave the Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust a good lift by becoming a financial supporter.

Yesterday, its marine engineering crew gave the trust another good lift - courtesy of one of the port's giant MT 35 container cranes.

Since the Te Matau a Maui waka arrived at its new Ahuriri mooring home in December 2012, it had not been out of the water - except for a brief time on the sands of Mahia.

It was time for some dry dock work and the port happily stepped forward to offer that facility - courtesy of a container-fenced area just off the main container wharf.

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Just before noon yesterday, the waka began its four-minute voyage - into the air.

Sandra Mauger has had a long association with the waka and admitted to being "a bit teary" as she watched it lifted from its home, the sea, and placed on dry land. "But this is what it needs now - some TLC (tender loving care)."

Trust chairman Phillip Smith said maintenance was a crucial part of any vessel's upkeep.

"This dry dock maintenance will enable our waka to continue to keep up with all Maritime Safety standards and will ultimately mean we can continue teaching and training youth on our coastal trips around New Zealand and offshore voyages into the Pacific."

He said the support of Napier Port to be able to carry the work out had been invaluable to the trust.

The crew of the waka worked in with the port's marine staff and met to go through the procedures before the waka set sail for the short journey from its Ahuriri moorings just after 10am.

Kaumatua were on hand to bless the waka before it was lifted, with Captain Martin Moore of Hawke's Bay Stevedores supervising the crane lift.

It went without a hitch after the twin masts and steering paddle had been removed and four strops from the overhead crane platform attached to hoist fittings on the four corners of the 22m, 13-tonne waka.

Members of the crew and the trust will now embark on a 10-day clean-up, top and bottom, which will include a hull re-paint as well as a full annual survey.

"By extending use of our specialist facilities we are able to provide practical assistance to help the trust's Waka Experience maintain their vessel," Napier Port marine supervisor Wayne Larsen said.

"It has been a fascinating project, outside the norm for the port and staff."

The waka is one of seven built and was launched in Auckland in 2009.

It is well-travelled.

In 2011, it set off for a return journey across the Pacific, to the west coast of America, using just the stars as its navigational chart in an 18-month voyage along with the six other waka.