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Lots for tamariki at Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival

Published: 15 January 2018

Tamariki can have lots of fun at the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival on Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

What to expect

From dancing and singing taniwha on stage, to te reo Māori cartoons and games, making model waka and paddling real ones, there are a host of activities for the young and young-at-heart.

The free, family-friendly three-day festival includes an extensive programme of music, games and craft activities, storytelling, and waka parades and rides to celebrate the unique Māori history, heritage and contemporary culture of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Kids can get out on the water in waka (age and adult accompaniment restrictions apply), but get in early if you want to paddle or sail – the experiences book out quickly.

How to book waka experiences

Waka hourua (double-hulled sailing waka) experiences are open to anyone over the age of five (children eight years old and under must each be accompanied by an adult), while waka tangata experiences are open to everyone eight years old and over.

Waka tangata experiences are free and waka hourua sailings cost $10 per adult and $5 per child.

Waka paddling registrations are available in Karanga Plaza, between the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre and the tidal steps, while waka hourua sailing tickets can be purchased at the festival information stand.

Waka activity is subject to capacity and weather conditions.

A big hit with families

The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival is driven by Mana Whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau in partnership with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) on behalf of Auckland Council.

ATEED General Manager Destination Steve Armitage says the festival is well-suited for its younger visitors: “The festival’s relaxed, welcoming and friendly vibe has been a big hit with families in the first two years of the festival.

"It’s truly a unique day out – where else in the world can you sail on an ocean-going waka like Moana, listen to exciting stories in te reo Maori and English, and get hands-on with games and craft, all while sampling the delicious kai on offer.”

Festival Mana Whenua Steering Group Chair Hau Rawiri says with Auckland being home to more than 180 ethnicities, the region’s Mana Whenua can provide the platform for the people of Tāmaki Makaurau to learn about and understand each other, and to share the many things all cultures have in common, like music, art, games and good food.

“This is about showing tamariki and mokopuna of all backgrounds that it’s cool to korero and use some te reo Māori, no matter what your cultural identity; to see and do and interact with modern Māori technology, like digital games, or try their hands at traditional things, like weaving, playing with poi or rākau or paddling a waka.”

For more information about the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival and its kaupapa, go to