The world's largest ceremonial war canoe has been back on the water in the Bay of Islands as part of Waitangi Day celebrations.

The 35-metre-long waka Ngatokimatawhaorua was eased into the water just after midday yesterday from its shelter on Hobson's Beach just below the Waitangi Treaty grounds.

More than 70 paddlers boarded the 6-tonne waka before making their way to Russell on the other side of the harbour.

Waka kaihautu or captain Retene Gabel said he was pleased with the way preparations had gone.


"We've been working on our timing, making sure everything is perfect so we can put on a nice pageant for the people."

Early in the day six smaller waka were launched from near Te Tii marae just north of Paihia.

Ngatokimatawhaorua was built as part of Ngapuhi's contribution to mark the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1940.

After the Queen's voyage on the waka in 1974, she designated it 'Her Majesty's Ship', which makes it part of her Royal Navy.