Skip to main content
MCW Books

Ngatokimatawhaorua: The Biography of a Legendary Waka Taua

By May 10, 2024No Comments

Shortlisted for the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

This is the biography of the mighty ceremonial waka taua Ngātokimatawhaorua that rests on the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi.

The inspiration for its construction came from Te Puea Hērangi. In the late 1930s the Waikato leader held a dream to build seven waka taua for the 1940 centennial commemorations at Waitangi. By 1937 two waka had been commissioned. Carved in Northland under the guidance of Pita Heperi (Te Tai Tokerau) and Piri Poutapu  (Waikato), Ngātokimatawhaorua was one of them.

But it was to be many decades before the true power of the waka to inspire a people was realised. In 1974 Ngātokimatawhaorua was refurbished by the late Sir Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi ‘Hec’ Busby for relaunching during Waitangi Day ceremonies. It was then that Te Puea’s dream turned into reality. By 1990, The Year of the Waka, 22 waka and their 2000 crew gathered at Waitangi.

Ngātokimatawhaorua and others became symbols of Māori unity and pride and an important part of the renaissance of the traditions of carving and voyaging around Aotearoa and beyond.

Ngatokimatawhaorua: The Biography of a Legendary Waka Taua

by Jeff Evans

Massey University Press

ISBN: 9781991151193 

Published: August 2023

Format: Paperback, 264 pages