Participating in the Waka Journey in the last break was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to immerse myself in local history and purakau, the Maori oral traditions and stories. This unique experience provided me with a deeper connection and understanding of the deep connections to the cultural heritage of the area. Drifting along the pristine waters in a waka gave me a sense of unity with the land and its rich history. I felt empowered to be standing on the shores where Maori once inhabitated with D'Urville's ship anchored in the bay. This was Observation beach. We found an image painted way back in history which looked like how our Waka was sitting on the sandy shores. As I listened to the stories shared by generations from the knowledgeable guides I felt the cultural significance of the waka. The journey not only deepened my understanding of the local culture but it left me with a renewed respect for the traditions and connection to the whenua and moana that have endured over centuries.
There was an abundant number of sea life with sea birds, seals (including a cheeky seal pup swimming around the waka), blue penguins out at sea not far from the waka and dolphins frolicking in the distance. The paddling was fantastic and challenging as we had two back to back days on the water due to unprecedented swells so we had a very early morning rendezvous on the beach to get out onto the ocean to watch the sunrise.
This has empowered me more as an educator as it was a transformative experience and I lay down the challenge for all educators to participate in an event like this because, you will cherish it for a lifetime. Thank you for this opportunity because there will be a flow on effect onto nga tamariki that I teach.