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Games and Pastimes of the Maori

Canoe Racing

Canoe Racing

All forms of canoeing were much appreciated by young folk, and both sexes learned the use of the paddle in youth. Children manipulated small canoes, and a capsize merely added to their enjoyment. Whaka hoehoe and whakatere waka denote canoe racing, paddling and sailing. Paddling races created much enthusiasm, closely contested ones caused intense excitement, as some of our old settlers remember, for Maori canoe races were, in the earlier years of European settlement, a common feature at local sports meetings. Such harbours as those of Wellington and Auckland have been the scene of some spirited contests in past years. When the annual regatta was held at Port Nicholson numbers of natives were wont to attend, and a canoe race was usually a prominent feature. In his Sixty Years in New Zealand, Mr. A. H. Blake describes such a race in these waters, when two waka taua (war canoes) adorned with carved work, paint and feathers, were paddled by full crews from Te Aro beach to Nga Uranga, round a flag boat, and back to the starting point. One canoe was under the command of Wi Tako, the other, that of Honiana Te Puni, and the former, came in the winner amid the frantic yells of the assembled natives, while, as the canoe took the beach, the crew leaped out and performed a furious dance with the wildest enthusiasm.

The word kaipara was employed whereby to denote a contest, as in the expression kaipara waka hoehoe, a canoe paddling contest. Whakataetae means 'to contend', as also does tauwhainga.