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te putanga mai anō

the resurrection of te winika

some seventy years later

Some 70 years later, Princess Te Puea Hērangi came to us with a request: could she take Te Winika to Ngāruawāhia and restore her?


When we tried to pull the hull apart to move her, her body was too strong and she broke the blades of our powered tools. We would have to find a more traditional way to pull her apart for the journey.


Safe in the hands of expert carvers, Te Winika was reborn - and would once more travel down the [Waikato river] for years to come. But where does her story end?

Te Putanga mai anō - The resurrection of Te Winika
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As a gesture of goodwill, Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu gifted Te Winika to Hamilton City, and on the 8th day of July 1973, she embarked on her most revered voyage on the Waikato river.


After witnessing generations of our people's hardships and triumphs, Te Winika now resides in Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato where, beside the carved fragments retrieved from the swamp Totomoaka, she finally rests for all our people to pay their respects to her connection to our past.

He Haerenga Rangatira - Revered Voyage
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a new beginning

In the 1930s, Te Winika became a symbol of the Kiingitanga and the waka renaissance.

Te Puea Hērangi, granddaughter of King Tāwhiao (the second Māori King), was a strong believer in his teachings. She made it her life's mission to rebuild the Kiingitanga, to advocate for Māori rights, and help her people thrive despite the Pakeha society they now lived in.

After returning the Kiingitanga to Ngaruawāhia and establishing Tūrangawaewae marae, she and the Kaahui Ariki (Royal Sovereign) sought to revitalize the skill of waka building. To that end, in the early 1930s she approached the people of Ngāti Tipa to ask if she could take Te Winika back to Ngaruawāhia, to be restored to its original state. 


In this way, the waka building and carving knowledge of our kaumatua could be passed on to the next generation.


Photo of Te Puea Hērangi: William A Price, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


generations of restoration

Te Winika has seen several restorations over the last century.


Te Puea asked Ranui Maupakanga (a man already in his nineties) and his apprentices Rawiri Tamainu and Ropata Wirihana to oversee Te Winika's restoration. Her body, laying at Waimate Bay, was too large to travel as it was. Craftsmen needed to cut her into sections in order to move her, but even after 70 years in the mud the wood was so strong it broke the saw blades. In the end, traditional adzes had to be used to separate the pieces.

With Ranui's directions, new tōtara were felled for the bow and stern sections, and Te Winika was rebuilt. Her new carvings, including her tauihi and taurapa, were carved by Piri Poutapu, Kereama Waka and Inia Te Wiata, who took great care to research the appropriate Waikato carving styles. With Te Winika's completion, she became a vessel of the Kiingitanga, serving the Kaahui Ariki and their guests.


[Photograph of Te Winika on the Waikato River.] Photographer unidentified. [1938]. Frank Colwyn Jones Collection. Ref: PAColl-3207-[08]. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


By 1938, Kiingitanga relations with the government had improved somewhat. On the 18th of March, the Kaahui Ariki invited Governor Galway to be carried by Te Winika to Tūrongo House for its opening ceremony – the first time a government dignitary had been invited to board a waka taua in 30 years (shown above).


After years of serving the Kiingitanga, Te Winika was restored again by Piri Poutapu and his carvers - the same man who led the 1930s restoration.


Now in the care of Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga O Waikato, Te Winika was restored back to her 1938 condition. This restoration was appointed to the descendants of her original crew members, carvers, and waka builders.


A 2014 fire caused by the spontaneous combustion of oil-soaked cleaning rags significantly damaged Te Winika's taurapa. Whilst her hull remained intact, Tainui master carvers determined that her taurapa needed to be replaced, and in August 2015 a new restoration by Inia Te Wiata Snr, Inia Te Wiata Jnr, Whatihua Herangi, Renata Te Wiata, Wikuki Kingi, Iriwhata Tekata, Wikaraka Henare, Ripi Joseph and Hipirini Te Kata was completed.

Poster promoting Te Winika's revered journey on the Waikato River.

Matakitakihia te hoenga whakamutunga o Te Winika; watch the last voyage of a great Māori war canoe. Sunday July 8 [1973]. Ref: Eph-C-MAORI-Waka-1973-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


te winika at rest


Te Winika faithfully served the Kiingitanga until she was gifted to Hamilton city in 1973 by the Māori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, as a gesture of harmony and goodwill.


On Sunday 8th July 1973 Te Winika embarked on a revered voyage on Waikato River alongside fellow waka taua Tahere Tikitiki to Days Park in Hamilton. There, Dame Te Atarangikaahu presented her to the City of Hamiton.

Since then, she has resided in the care of Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato – originally at their former site in London Street, and now in the current Museum in Grantham Street.


Even now she watches over the Waikato river, from her resting place in Te Whare Waka o Te Winika (the Te Winika Gallery).

related videos


Local kaumatua share their memories of Te Winika.

Video courtesy of Waikato Museum.

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