New Zealand Embassy The Hague, The Netherlands
Waka come to the Netherlands
The long-standing ties between New Zealand and the Netherlands were further strengthened on 18 October. Following years of planning and months of preparation members of the Leiden University rowing club, Njord, took possession of two waka – a fiberglass waka tete and a ceremonial carved waka taua named Te Hono ki Aotearoa (The Link to New Zealand).
A New Zealand waka crew assembled by Toi Māori handed the waka over to the Dutch crew in a moving ceremony on the banks of a canal in Leiden. A large crowd of Dutch dignitaries, ex-pat New Zealanders and curious onlookers witnessed the occasion. The ceremony included a stirring challenge issued by the New Zealanders and a special haka performed by both crews. Having formally taken possession of the waka taua the Dutch crew paraded it before the crowd along the canal while the Toi Māori crew performed haka in their honour.
Toi Māori was commissioned by the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden to construct the waka following a successful bid to the Dutch lottery funding agency. The waka taua was built in New Zealand by master waka builder Hector Busby, who was present to see it handed over. Both waka will be on permanent loan to the museum, and will eventually be on display in a specially built waka whare on the museum grounds. The waka will be cared for and crewed by members of Njord, thus creating a strong and permanent bond between New Zealand and the next generations of Dutch people.