ARTIST Jamie Boyton re-enacts the ama – or join – part of the unfolding waka story. Photos Sven Carlsson OB4583-04

A UNIQUE learning project at Opotiki Primary School has been shown to the outside world for the first time.

On Friday morning a dual-hulled waka was brought into the sunshine and blessed by kaumatua Te Riaki Amoamo, before being prepared for inclusion in the Christmas Parade that evening

Principal Tony Howe said the school hadn’t considered building its own waka until artist Jamie Boynton suggested it.

“The project cost $18,000 of which the Southern Trust has funded $15,000,” he said.

Mr Howe said the school was the first in New Zealand to build a waka ama of this design

“It’s a kitset design from Napier, developed especially for our school,” he said.

Mr Boynton said the vessel was modelled on an ulua, a traditional Polynesian small craft

“We will paddle it first, and possibly add rigging and sail later on.”

It is rare for a school to build its own boat, and the creative project added ownership and collective learning.

Resource teacher Eru Koopu said other components could be added to the waka later.

“It’s a story in creation,”
he said.

Named Te Waka Araumauma o Tarawa, the waka represents the Opotiki Mai Tawhiti story.

“Tarawa swam here with the help of his pets,” Mr Koopu said.

The two hulls are called Te Tanahanaha Ngakau Pono and Te Tanahanaha Noho Haepapa.

“They represent integrity and accountability,” Mr Koopu said.

“The other values are in the boat.”

Mr Howe said the waka would be used for learning and exploring in the Ohiwa Harbour.

“Eru knows waka traditions,” he said.

“It’s an educational and ceremonial waka, but the most important factor is to catch fish.”