Waka Pavilion plans visit to London Olympics

The huge Waka-shaped Pavilion, cornerstone of the popular Waka Maori Rugby World Cup event may be seen next year in London 2012 Olympic Games.

Discussions are underway between the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Ngati Whatua o Orakei to take the 76-metre long Waka Maori to UK.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Commercial and Marketing Director Terry Daly said the waka made an impact at the Rugby World Cup fan zone and that it could provide a focal point for New Zealand activities in London.

“We are urging businesses and the Government to build on the momentum created around the Rugby World Cup and to look at ways the London Olympic Games can be used to promote New Zealand,” he said.

“A major Kiwi House in London is taking shape and the waka could add another dimension to the series of showcase events already planned. With millions of visitors set to attend the London Olympic Games, New Zealand will be ideally placed to show the world what it has to offer,” he said.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee will announce its plans for Kiwi House in London early next year.

Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board Chief Executive Tiwana Tibble said that there were inquiries before and during the Rugby Tournament about using the waka.

“From a Ngati Whatua perspective, we are interested in opportunities where the waka can be used to show New Zealand at its best and create greater awareness of Maori culture as a positive part of life in this country.

“The waka itself is a blank canvas and it is up to people to make it come alive in whichever way they want to; he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

The 76-metre long waka has been on the Auckland waterfront since October 13 where it has seen around 400,000 visits to the Waka Maori events that included performances in the waka, a Maori rugby exhibition and carving, weaving, ta moko and contemporary Maori arts displays at the artisans village.

The waka cost $900,000 to build and was funded by Te Puni Kokori, the Culture and Heritage Ministry and the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board.

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