An aerial view captures the Waka ama 'Hukatai' as it is paddled across the serene waters of Aotea. Photo / Hillary Outdoors

Kawa Marae Gifted Hukatai Waka as Hillary Outdoors Closes Aotea Chapter

Mid-morning Wednesday, a crew is set to paddle the Waka ama ‘Hukatai’ to Kawa Marae, after it was gifted by Hillary Outdoors to mana whenua/mana moana. The event will be followed by a BBQ and an opportunity for attendees to paddle the waka.

With the closure of its Great Barrier Island operation, Kawa Marae is set to receive the Waka ama ‘Hukatai’ from Hillary Outdoors Education Centre, securing its future as a community asset.

The waka will be paddled over by the OPC crew on April 24th. “Yes that’s right whānau… they are absolute machines and will be paddling the Waka over to deliver it to Kawa,” an announcement from Nancy Tait, Michelle, and Kawa Marae, said Tuesday.

The community is invited to Kawa to welcome the Waka and its crew, with a haka pōwhiri, mihi, and waiata planned to honor the transition. The event will be rounded off with a BBQ and activities, including a chance to paddle the waka. “This is such an awesome occasion that we want to share with all. Nō reira, nau mai, haere mai te katoa! So come one and all!” Tait enthused.

The expected arrival time of the Waka at Kawa is around 11:30 AM, dependent on weather. Those interested in participating in the haka pōwhiri are welcomed to join a practice session at 10 AM on Wednesday.

Since opening in 2006 at the 230-hectare Orama Oasis centre in Karaka Bay, Hillary Outdoors was a cornerstone of outdoor education on Aotea. The closure, driven by financial challenges in maintaining its remote operations, was a tough but necessary decision, the organization said.

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Reflecting on the closure, Hillary Outdoors noted, “Aotea will always be a location that holds a special place in our hearts and minds,”.

Hillary Outdoors plans to continue its mission from their Tongariro Centre and through other educational and event-based programs.

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