Paddlers from Hawaii, North America and the Netherlands will join Māori from around the motu when up to 10 waka take to the waters off Waitangi on Wednesday.
The waka crews are expected to depart from Haruru Falls and Waitangi boat ramp early in the morning and converge on Tii Beach, in front of Te Tii Marae, around 9.30am. There, the kaihoe (paddlers) will perform a series of mass haka and be greeted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Ngā Waka Te Tai Tokerau chairman Robert Gabel said the number of kaihoe representing indigenous peoples from Hawaii and the US, including the Suqamish of Washington state, had been boosted this year by people keen to honour waka builder and master navigator Hekenukumai Busby, who will be knighted on the Treaty Grounds on Monday.
The fleet will include waka from Tauranga and Whakatane as well as Northland canoes such as the 30-metre Ngātokimatawhaorua, the world's largest waka in use.
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Three members of Leiden University's Njord Royal Student Rowing Club in the Netherlands, kaitiaki of the only waka taua (war canoe) based in the Northern Hemisphere, will also be taking part.
As in previous years, more than 300 kaihoe will stay in a waka training camp at Bledisloe Domain in Haruru Falls in the days leading up to February 6.
However, Gabel said the camp had received no funding this year — it is normally supported by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Te Puni Kōkiri — which meant the facilities would be much more basic than in previous years.
When they are not paddling, the kaihoe will help out around Waitangi, for example by welcoming dignitaries to Te Tii Marae.
Fire and Emergency NZ is also taking part in an effort to upskill its personnel in tikanga Māori.
Iwi liaison officer Albert Cash, a kaihautu (captain) who has been involved in waka since childhood, will pass on some of his knowledge of waka skills and protocols to Naini Heremaia, a rural firefighter based at Rāwhiti, and Moana Harris, a volunteer for Rawene brigade, from February 3 to 6.