Waka Whare


As part of a package of Māori tourism projects granted $7.5
million via the One Billion Trees programme and the Provincial Growth Fund, Waka Whare will sit in a 45ha sanctuary in Kerikeri that will enable Ngāti Rēhia to utilise its land, create work and training opportunities, and teach its young people how to be good kaitiaki guardians.

The client had a clear vision of creating a traditional, robust and low maintenance whare-shaped building to provide shelter for a waka. It is the first point of call for visitors arriving by land or water, giving an authentic sense of arrival to Rewa’s Village, encouraging people to spend more time at the Basin.

The Waka Whare building narrative talks to the local Maori tangata whenua Ngāti Rehia’s history, cultural and spiritual values of the basin area providing an opportunity for visitors to learn more of the rich cultural heritage in the Far North.

Due to be complete by the end of the year, the shelter bears
a strong Maori influence in shape and form with carvings and colours of a traditional whare. The Shelter is situated on a raised fill platform with Pa-like benched earth batters creating a viewing platform for tourists to relax and take in the ambience of the Basin area.

Challenges met and value/benefits provided:

The waka is delivered to site on a trailer daily. We designed a simple level arm pulley system that allows one person to transfer the waka to the cradle.

The project includes:


• The structural pau (posts) are symbolic of the heo waka (waka paddle). The heo is carved and
painted to represent elements of nature and
include the whakapapa, giving the heo spiritual

• The shape of the building also symbolises the
Tangaroa – Putatara is a highly prized trumpet
shell that is rarely found in Aotearoa. It is
regarded as a special gift of Tangaroa, the god of the sea, used as a summons, to call arms to war, warn of danger or sound the dawning of the new day. The triangular front of the whare, facing out into the basin like the Putatara, calls out across the water to European settlers on the other side.