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Ōtākaro Avon River waka tours showcase Christchurch's Māori and Pākehā history

Sulaeman k a

Oct. 01, 2020

A Christchurch company has launched waka tours on the Ōtākaro Avon River, despite suffering several setbacks and an uncertain future because of the Covid-19 pandemic .
Māori cultural experience company Ko Tāne launched its custom-made waka into the river following a blessing at the Margaret Mahy Playground in central Christchurch on Friday.
Co-director Dave Brennan said he was excited to finally launch after suffering setbacks in the planning phase , which were then further complicated by the Covid-19 crisis.
"There was a lot of unknowns but spirits [are] high. We know we're not unique and there are tonnes of brothers and sisters out there who are struggling in their businesses, but we're just grateful for this moment."
He said the tours were an “inclusive”, “interactive” and “educational” way of showcasing the collaborative history of Māori and Pākehā within Christchurch.
“We’ve taken a different approach … [and taken] the two cultures that dominated the city and made it home and made it into the city it is today. It’s the journey of our two peoples and our environment and it’s all done from the waka.”
Brennan said it was important to him to tell the stories of Pākehā and Māori working together because “the founders of our city did some incredible things together”.
The tours would also focus on promoting Maōri environmentalist beliefs, such as personifying rivers and mountains and treating them as if they are “living beings”, he said.
Currently, Ko Tāne has two custom-built waka, which seat about 30 guests between them.
Brennan said the company planned to add smaller waka in the coming months.
Tours would launch from the Margaret Mahy Playground and would run most days in the lead-up to Christmas.
The company originally planned to launch the waka from a new $3.5 million Māori cultural centre at 794 Colombo St.
The centre, named Puari Village, was initially set to open in October but construction was stopped because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
It was now expected to be completed in October next year.
New Zealand introduced strict border controls earlier this year to try limit the spread of Covid-19.
Tourism industry leaders have suggested it may take two to five years for international flights to return to pre-Covid passenger numbers .
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