Kaihoe journey to London
Becoming a kaihoe (paddler) 12 years ago started Jordan Paraha on a life-long journey to learn more about himself.
The 20 year old Ngāpuhi has come a long way thanks to his involvement with waka and paddling. “Before I started doing waka I didn’t know anything about where I was from; didn’t even know what tikanga meant.”
Not only is Jordan speaking te reo Māori, doing haka and waiata but through his involvement with waka he’s now preparing to travel to London to represent New Zealand at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Jordan is one of the kaihoe (paddlers) that will row the ceremonial waka taua (war canoe) Te Hono ki Aotearoa / The Link to New Zealand in the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3 June.
The waka taua Te Hono ki Aotearoa will be one of more than 1,000 vessels in a flotilla taking part in the 4-hour formal procession. It will be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river.
The crew of 14 kaihoe began their training at the end of March and included three wānanga in Hamilton. They trained on the Waikato River with a waka taua named Whakāngi which was carved from the same 800 year old tree that Te Hono ki Aotearoa was crafted from. As well as being out on the River, the wānanga also involved gym work, road running and haka and waiata practices. Each session is an intense weekend of learning and training.
Now living in Otara, Jordan had moved back up north in 2000 to his family home in Moerewa. His Uncle introduced him to waka and trained him as a kaihoe in preparation for Waitangi Day. “And I’ve been doing waka ever since,” Jordan says.
He enjoys the hard work that comes with waka and says it “keeps me focussed on life and makes me stay out of trouble”. It is a passion Jordan feels he can pass down to his younger whānau too.
He’s looking forward to the experience; his first time overseas. “It might give me a different look at life, hopefully.”
The Toi Māori waka taua Te Hono ki Aotearoa is on permanent loan to the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden. It was built as a Waka for Europe and can be used as a vehicle to promote Māori arts, culture and New Zealand at events throughout Europe. The involvement of the waka in the Diamond Jubilee pageant has been funded by the New Zealand government. Officials from Te Puni Kōkiri; Te Manatū Taonga the Ministry for Culture and Heritage; and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have assisted with arrangements.