$4.6m grant to make Sir Hek’s waka dream a reality

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has announced a grant of $4.6m from the Provincial Growth Fund, for the Kupe Wāka centre to be built near Sir Hekenukumai’s home at Aurere, in southern Doubtless Bay.

The 86-year-old has built and launched many wāka from Aurere, and set up a carving school on the site some years ago. 

But he told the Waitangi Tribunal three years ago he would not be around forever, and his dearest wish was for the funding for a navigation school so that the traditional techniques of Pacific voyaging could be passed on to a younger generation.

“Sir Hek is truly an icon of the Far North,” Mr Davis said.

“The Kupe Wāka centre will see his knowledge preserved and also bring people to the area from New Zealand and overseas to this incredible part of our country.”

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