A Northland artist and keen paddler is heading to Seattle where she will paddle with local tribes and exchange cultures.

Waikarere Gregory, who lives near Kaitaia, will be representing Toi Maori at the Tribal Canoe Journeys Paddle to Nisqually, Seattle USA with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde of Portland, Oregon.

The journey will see Ms Gregory paddle to 19 destinations with Native American tribes where they will be welcomed by hosting tribes and share art forms, life skills and stories.

"I'm a big believer in exchanging cultures and I love paddling. I sailed Te Aurere, the waka hourua (double hulled voyaging canoe), and we went around Norfolk Island and Auckland," she said.


"I'm involved with waka ama at home. I just love the culture of the water. I love how much closer I feel to my tupuna, particularly when we went to Norfolk. There was nothing there other than the wind and the sea and the stars and it makes you aware of how very little you need to survive."

Ms Gregory has been involved with cultural exchanges with other indigenous people but it will be her first time sharing with Native American people.

"I went [to America] for a school exchange when I was young and that's one of the things I was disappointed by, the lack of interaction with Native Americans," she said.

Ms Gregory said she believed sharing with other cultures was important. "It's a source of inspiration and I think often we can feel isolated so we can share stories and history and without sounding too out there it's that connection to one another."

Ultimately, she said she was looking forward to learning about Native American culture.

"We'll have the opportunity to stand and say who we are, but predominantly it's about their people and I'm honoured to be involved in this."

During the journey, rituals will be exchanged at each reservation the canoes stop off at.

Food is shared in communal long houses and rituals begin immediately after with the furthest tribes beginning their ceremonies and continuing them late in to the night. Ms Gregory will head off on Tuesday.