Eru and the Waka
If you'd been standing on a beach in 1940 at the launch of the largest canoe in the world, you would have seen 12-year-old Eru Patuone Heperi. He was the youngest paddler on board and his father was one of the carvers who helped create the significant waka.
Back then the canoe was called Ngā Toki Matawhaorua of Pewhairangi. The name was later changed to Ngātokimatawhaorua and it now nestles for the most part in a waka shelter in the grounds of the Waitangi Trust as a major tourist attraction and emerges for special ceremonial occasions.
The original concept for the waka came from the Tainui Princess Te Puea Hērangi who saw the creation of the canoe and its launch as a way of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Last year Eru Patuone Heperi came to Waitangi from his home on the Gold Coast to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the launch of Ngātokimatawhaorua and the 180th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty.
At 92, he was that day the oldest paddler on board.
Paying homage to Ngātokimatawhaorua is a new exhibition that will open on February 4 at Te Kōngahu Museum at Waitangi.
Entitled He Kaupapa Waka, it features two waka centrepieces as part of a multi-media, multi-sensory display that includes photos by Te Rawhitiroa Bosche and music by Tiki Taane.
Te Rawhitiroa Bosch's tribal affiliations are Ngāti Kahu and Ngāpuhi. He lives in the Waikato now so he can claim a vicarious connection to those who gave birth to the waka concept.
He says that unlike most museums, visitors will be strongly encouraged to touch the two waka.
"You will see the landscape, the trees from which the waka was carved, you will hear the karakia and you'll be able to smell the aromatic kauri woodchips as you travel through the exhibition."
Tiki Taane is one of the country's top musicians who has created the "sensory soundscape" for the exhibition. He is a former leading member of Salmonella Dub and is now a producer and sonic artist.
The two waka are about 6m long and made of totara and swamp kauri.
They were the last two waka created under the instruction of master carver Tā Hekenukumai Pūhipi, the late Sir Hec Busby, and kaumātua, the late Wiremu Wiremu.
Alongside the two waka is a collection of 10 hoe specially carved by Billy Harrison to represent Te Waka o Tamarereti, depicting a series of stars and constellations used in traditional voyaging and navigation.
This year, because of border restrictions and quarantine requirements, Heperi won't physically be at Waitangi for the opening of the exhibition that carries his memories.
Instead, a statement from him will be read by his mokopuna so his legacy and his spirit will be back on board the waka he came to know 81 years ago.
• There will be a massive haka (about 300 paddlers), in front of the Treaty Grounds main entrance at 3pm before the exhibition opening on Thursday.
Waitangi Festival schedule
Thursday February 4, 2021
9.15am: Gates Open
10am Pōwhiri for Her Excellency The Rt Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor General of NZ
11.45am: Hobson Memorial Gate Opens
12.30pm: Pōwhiri for Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand and Parliamentary colleagues
3pm: Exhibition opening: He Kaupapa Waka at Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi Exhibition Gallery. Photographs by Te Rawhitiroa Bosh and a soundscape created by Tiki Taane.
Friday February 5
4pm: Hobson Memorial Gate opens
4.45pm: Royal NZ Navy Beat Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset. Navy band concert and marching followed by lowering of the flag on the Upper Treaty Grounds.
Saturday February 6
5am: Dawn ceremony at Te Whare Rūnanga
6.30am: Flag raising ceremony with bagpiper Bain McGregor
7.30am: Barbecue breakfast served by the Prime Minister and other Ministers
10am: Interdenominational church service at Te Whare Rūnanga
11.30am: Royal NZ Navy Big Band performance and kapa haka at the Flagstaff.
11.30am: NZDF Guard parades
Noon: Royal NZ Navy 21-gun salute
5pm: Royal NZ Navy Beat Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset.
Main stage Upper Treaty Grounds
12.15pm: Entertainment until 5.45pm.
Waka stage Lower Treaty Grounds
10am: Market stalls until 4pm
12.05pm: Entertainment until 3.30pm.
Sports field area opposite the Treaty Grounds
8.30am–2.30pm: Tātou Tātou Ngati Hine FM Stage
9am– 4pm: Market stalls
10am– 4pm: Children's activities.
Other Waitangi events
All Heritage New Zealand properties throughout the country will be open, free of charge, to the public on Waitangi Day.
Properties that will be open in the Bay of Islands on Waitangi Day are Clendon House, Kerikeri Mission Station, Māngungu Mission, Pompallier Mission and Printery and Te Waimate Mission House in Northland.
The Treaty was signed by rangatira at both Te Waimate Mission and Māngungu Mission.
Visitors to any property will receive a 20-page publication on Waitangi Day for free, while stock last.
The souvenir booklet, titled Te Rā o Waitangi 2021 includes articles in English and Te Reo Māori on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Wakaputanga (the Declaration of Independence) of 1835.
A map depicts where each of the nine versions of the Treaty travelled around the country for signing. Visit www.heritage.org.nz
And the band plays on
Sunday February 7, noon: Concert by The Royal New Zealand Navy Band, Turner Centre, Kerikeri, John Dalton Auditorium. Bookings prior are essential. $15 adult, $10 seniors and students, $5 child tickets at the box office or
Lining up for youth training
The first day back at term for the New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF) starts on February 11 in Kerikeri.
It's a military-style training organisation designed for youth and run in a partnership between the New Zealand Defence Force and the community.
The target is youth between the ages of 13 and 15 years but they welcome those a little older or a little younger.
The Kerikeri unit was established in 1988 and the catchment area covers Whangaroa to Kawakawa and Okaihau and Kerikeri and surrounds.
They make up the three parts of the Defence Force's service branches, NZ Army, RNZ Air Force and RNZ Navy and there are 34 Cadet Unit Forces nationwide.
They parade once a week on Thursday nights during the school term, between 6pm and 8pm and average one camp per term.
They are involved in fundraising and get taught shooting, orienteering, radio communications, first aid, bush craft, drill marching and leadership skills.
Supplementary staff member at Kerikeri is Kathaleen Griffiths who says the Cadet Forces are about building future leaders of tomorrow.
"These skills help prepare for roles not only in the forces but in the community such as firefighting, as a police officer, nursing, teaching, Coastguard, even search and rescue."
Parents of a cadet automatically become a member of the support committee and there are opportunities for adults to upskill to become a Commissioned Officer.
They also welcome NZDF staff members, Reservists or Regular Force members who could give back to the community as well.
There is a $100 bond for uniforms (which are provided) and it costs $45 per term. The Kerikeri force meets at 1913 State Highway 10 in Waipapa.
For more information: Mita Harris (Unit Commander) 027 226 1584 or Kathaleen Griffiths (Sup Staff) 021 086 15790.
• Email Sandy Myhre at email@example.com if you have any news you'd like to see in Bay News.