Hihiaua ki te Moana

The highlight of October for some of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre practitioners has been the launch of a beautiful waka taua –  Manawa Kuaka – and participation in Te Hau Kōmaru National Waka Hourua Festival in Kawhia.  The festival brought together a flotilla of waka hourua, navigators, sailors, waka builders and carvers from around Aotearoa and Hawai’i.  Waka builders and carvers, including those from the Far North and Hihiaua,  completed Manawa Kuaka, in time for its launch on Kawhia Moana at dawn on Labour Day.  The project began at Hihiaua one year ago when a 35,000 year old swamp kauri log was delivered and the first cuts were made to shape the hull.  Hihiaua carvers worked on various components with others from Awanui, Tainui and Poneke and all the other components were completed on site at Maketu Marae, Kawhia over the week of the festival.  The final touches included the taurapa and tauihu and the taura, woven with muka and albatross feathers by Hihiaua curator, Alicia Courtney. 

The team of Hawai’ian waka builders who worked at Hihiaua three years ago as part of Rātā He Kaha Ki Uta during the Tuia commemorations, worked on the waka and revisited Hihiaua this week.  Participants were able to share various types of matauranga (knowledge systems) associated with traditional waka building, sailing and navigation with school groups and the general public.

The festival also celebrated 30 years since the first waka hourua in modern times, Te Aurere, was launched in Te Tai Tokerau. Some of the original crew members shared memories of their first voyaging experiences with the late Sir Hekenukumai Busby.

Manawa Kuaka remains in Kawhia and will be brought back to Te Tai Tokerau sometime soon.  The next Te Hau Kōmaru festival will be in Kaiteriteri in March 2024.


To see more fantastic images taken by Hugh Williams, search and follow whanauarata on facebook and instagram.


A big thumbs up to the organisors and volunteers of the Whangarei Fringe Festival who made for such fun events in our community.  We were delighted to see visitors from around the globe here for the Women’s Rugby World Cup.  Go the Black Ferns!


The exhibition of quilts by fabric artist Ron Te Kawa have continued to be popular and are on show for another few days.  They will make way next week for our exciting new Raumati Exhibition.  This exhibition will feature fabulous prints from Theresa Reihana and other works of jewellery, weaving, pots and carvings by local and national artists.

The Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust congratulates and looks forward to working with our new Mayor and councillors on both Whangarei District and Northland Regional Councils as we work for a better future for all our communities.