Tag Archives: Wellington waterfront

Waitangi Day and a hangi at the Wharewaka in Wellington

The 6th of February – Waitangi Day – is New Zealand’s most important national holiday and I have a  hangi at the Wharewaka. 

It’s the day our founding document the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. For many of us it’s a day of celebration, and commemoration. (read more I’ve written about the day here)

The day  started  for me at 4 o’clock in the morning when I went down to the Wellington waterfront to watch a hangi being prepared on the edge of Whairepo (stingray Lagoon,  in front of the Wharewaka.

However, for the men cooking the hangi it had started at 2 a.m. I hadn’t been there very long when to the dismay of all , the automatic  sprinkler system to water the lawns began pumping out litres of water – not good when you have a fire going.

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The fire of course is essential for cooking the food and it became scramble to protect the flames which were heating, not volcanic stones as my husband used, but pieces of iron which are also great heat conductors.

Of course a great hangi master saved the fire and the food emerged after 3 hours – a great 10am breakfast for me.


Here are my photos which tell the story from my arrival until I had the food at about 10 a.m.

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Some background about this building

Wharewaka o Poneke opened on Waitangi Day 2011 – and I was there – and during the dawn opening, Wellington’s Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, said

“It’s a building you couldn’t see anywhere else in the world. Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika have delivered Wellington a wonderful asset that reminds us all of their place in the city – their history on the waterfront and their future as well.”

Here are some photos I took at the opening – just a few months after I moved to Wellington, NZ

Sir Ngatata Love, chairman of the Wharewaka o Poneke Charitable Trust, said he was excited to see the Wharewaka open. “This has been planned since the 1990s and I’m delighted we’re now able to bring waka culture to Wellington’s waterfront.”

The outside of the building is based on a korowai (cloak), which symbolises mana and prestige, and mirrors the traditional sails of the waka fleet.

Finally, those of you who follow me on social know the wharewaka  and lagoon is where my U3A group meets for our Monday morning walks.

Walking tour: Wellington’s hidden Maori treasures

20160519_102430These tours leave daily from Te Raukura where the waka are housed within Te Wharewaka o Poneke: a place I know quite well as I not only attended the dawn opening of this building (2011) but also where my weekly social walking group meets, at Karaka (cafe), for breakfast or coffee before we head off on a city walk.

People gather in the dawn
People gather in the dawn

Tuparahuia, our guide for the morning walk introduced himself while standing beside the four waka – including the largest, a single hull carved waka taua, Te Rerenga Kotare, which is used for ceremonial events and which, in the past, would have been a war canoe. Another way to experience the rich culture and history of Te Whanganui-a-Tara and the Te Atiawa people is to join a waka tour of the harbour on one of these traditional boats. (Bookings essential)

the bronze statue is impressive
the bronze statue is impressive

Alongside the water of Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington Harbour) we hear the story of Maui and his brothers fishing up the North Island, otherwise known as Te Ika A Maui -the fish of Maui. Turning back towards the building we stand under the fabulous statue -made in the late 1930s by Christchurch sculptor William Trethewy – which depicts the legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe, his wife, and tohunga. Originally built in plaster, and for decades sitting in the Wellington railway station, in 1999 it was cast in bronze and placed on the waterfront to celebrate the millennium and as a tribute to all who have come to these shores. Under the gaze of these majestic, heroic looking, figures our walking tour continues and we hear the stories of Kupe and his discovery of Aotearoa New Zealand.

In front of the meeting house, on the atea (usually considered a sacred area of ground) is a stylised compass of the stars and constellations used by those early Pacific navigators: it was interesting to hear how those early waka had the 360° horizon marked around the canoe railings for easy navigation when they added their knowledge about the time of the year – something I’d not heard before.

Te Aro Pa (pa = community or village) was once one of the largest Māori communities in Wellington until the 1880s. It is often acknowledged that those early settlers would never have survived without the support of local Māori.

I recommend you take the tour yourself and hear all these stories, myths, and legends. We also examined the uncovered remains of two whare (buildings) which were uncovered during the demolition, then construction of an apartment block, in 2005. This tour, and others Te Atiawa provide, are a great way to understand the city’s history as you discover Wellington’s hidden Māori treasures.

Note: in Māori, as in many other languages, you do not add an ‘s’ to a word to describe more than on as there is no letter s in the language. Just as we say one sheep or 1000 sheep the same is for waka, kiwi, and Māori (etc) when being used as New Zealand English. In te reo Māori it would be te waka (the waka, ie one) or nga waka to show more that one. For more information about the language please see other blogs I’ve written, including this one I wrote for NileGuide Maori is one of three official languages in New Zealand – check it out here

Some photos for you . . .



Cruise ships in Wellington … a walk along the waterfront

Wellington Writers Walkway . . . spread along the Wellington waterfront, a stroll along it is a great artistic, historical, and literary way to spend an enjoyable couple of hours in New Zealand’s capital city.

Brochures that lead you around them are available at the local iSite in Civic Square – the link above has a map and here’s link to the Writers Walkway FaceBook Page

With ‘quotations from 23 authors, past and contemporary, including poets, novelists, and playwrights the walk celebrates the place of Wellington in these writers’ lives’.  and their place in the life of Wellington. It also introduces New Zealand literature to a wider public, and in particular, tourists and visitors. I heard cruise ship passengers discussing buying a NZ book and I’m sure without this great addition to our public art they would not have known about the author whose quote they were  photographing.

See an earlier blog I wrote about the opening of some new quotes.  (All in a different  form, ie not concrete)

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Shaolin Monks perform on the waterfront.

Shaolin Monks from the home of the popular (in the  West) Zen Buddhism in China,  were recently in Wellington New Zealand for the World of Wearable Art (WOW) and gave some public displays. I attended this one on the Wellington waterfront.


Solace in the Wind – public art Wellington Waterfront

Backpackers, cruise ship passengers, and especially us locals all love Solace In the Wind.

He is  often dressed with all sorts of clothes according to the season or event


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Writers Walkway: Wellington Waterfront

Last week I attended the launch and unveiling of four new quotes on the Wellington Writers Walkway – and the honouring of  the writers and their city, or the city their quotes mention.

These tributes to the city by the sea are dotted  around the  Wellington waterfront as typographical sculptures in wood and concrete.  Use your smartphone to guide you around the sites and learn more about the writers behind them. See it here. ( or download the brochure or pick it up at the Wellington i-site centre.)

It was also wonderful  to meet 3 young woman travellers, from Malaysia, who said “it’s great that you  honour your writers this way”. Funnily, one of the woman lives in the city I land at in my Borneo trip (Kuching, June – August 2013) and who I now will meet for a coffee after I’ve been the Rainforest World Music Festival. As the CEO of the Sarawak  State Library, it’s no wonder she noticed the group of us wandering the waterfront and we were glad they joined us.


The writers honoured at this launch were: Joy Cowley, Elizabeth Knox, James McNeish and Jack Lazenby who’s pole and quote  is behind the visitor-students to Wellington. Read more about them on the Writers Walkway website or on the New Zealand Society of Authors one.

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Another great day in Wellington – cruise ship passengers love our waterfront too

Today I just took a day off and spent about 3 hours on the Wellington Waterfront – it’s no wonder surveys show cruise ship passengers love this working wharf – it has everything. Art, music, galleries, food, shops, cafes, playground — all wrapped around a working wharf, right on the edge of New Zealand’s capital city’s retail and business centre.

Enjoying the sun while watching the rescue helicopter taking off

Today I explored just a  little of it over lunchtime. As well as going to a fascinating book launch about the Sons of the Soil ( a history of New Zealand Chinese market gardeners) and had  a REALLY great quesadilla for lunch – go and try one – the Mexican food is right beside the new public sculpture “Nga Kina” by the talented Michel Tuffery

I also came across a new community piano – if you have musical skills book a time slot to entertain us — thanks to the Tuatua Cafe et al!
Another thing I came across was a stairway being built — to where? Who knows what it’s for? No-one is telling it seems.

Anyway, here’s a slideshow from the many photos I took today. Sit back, relax and enjoy 🙂

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Solace in the Wind – public art is the photo of the day

A much- loved Wellington piece of public art




By sculptor Max Patte.  Solace in the Wind is on the Wellington waterfront beside Te Papa. It is a two-metre-high iron figure leaning forward into a cross-harbour gale with eyes closed and arms held back and locals ( and I suspect his creator also) often dress him in clothes appropriate to the season or occasion – I will do a photo blog of some of them one day.