With the same strokes as the ancestors, a new venture aims at connecting iwi back with wai while offering an authentic Māori experience.
Ki Te Hoe Waka Paddle Rotorua launched on Lake Rotorua last weekend and plans to stick around all summer. It aims to provide people with a waka experience on the lake.
Behind it all was Eugene Berryman-Kamp, who said the intention was to generate an income for the iwi, give visitors to Rotorua the opportunity to learn how to paddle a traditional-style waka, and have a visible regular feature on the lake.
The 90-minute waka experience will take visitors from the Lakefront to Ōhinemutu, while sharing the waka culture and stories of the area.
The double-hulled waka is 9m long and seats 14 people. It is rented from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara trust.
"We got our waka to get our people back on the waka. Back in the day, waka was the mode of transport and we want to re-establish that," Berryman-Kamp said.
"But then there are maintenance costs, there is insurance and registration for the trailer, so we wondered how we could generate an income for this.
"So we thought we would turn it into this venture to generate a profit for the iwi, but what it means is it gives us the basis for waka to be a regular sight."
Berryman-Kamp said the summer season was a trial to refine the product and marketing approach, with the aim of building a sustainable business within three years.
He said this was to ensure the business was in place with a sound market offering for when the Lakefront development was completed.
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Mayor Steve Chadwick, deputy mayor Dave Donaldson, kaumatua Monty Morrison and Ngāti Kea Ngāti Tuara chairman Eru George were all in attendance to bless the launch.
Chadwick said the venture was a good "activation", which was connected to health, wellness and wellbeing and added to the value of the Lakefront.
"This really is the welcoming for so many people to our destination.
"This is what we dreamed of. We didn't dream just of the pretty up but a huge investment for our people and our destination.
"There needs to be considerably more pride for our people when they think of this space."