Once you’ve seen the surface of Wellington, go deep into its rich history on a cultural waka
canoeMāori | noun or walking tour with Te Wharewaka o Pōneke. These tours share stories of the city’s Māori past, local iwi
Māori tribeMāori | Noun Te Atiawa and explain how it has led to its contemporary culture.
Te Wharewaka o Pōneke is a distinctive building located by Whairepo Lagoon on the site where Te Aro Pā
Māori villageMāori | Noun, one of the largest Māori communities in Wellington up until the 1880s, was located. This spectacular building houses four waka as well as a café and function centre and is where the tours begin.
Image: Tracey BeethamTe Wharewaka o Poneke waka tour
Image: Celeste Fontein
Ariki Brightwell, who is a kaiārahi
guideMāori | Noun for Te Wharewaka, says there are “layers of history hidden beneath the city”. A two-hour Hidden Māori Treasures tour takes you right into these fascinating layers to a part of central Wellington that many locals don’t even know about.
You’ll head to the Te Aro pā where whareponga (sleeping huts) were unearthed and learn about Māori culture and hear stories the people who lived here, and even visit an excavation site that’s not open to the public. This unique piece of history right under your feet tells the stories of how Wellington developed and became the city it is today.
If you’re short on time, a one hour City to Sea tour will have you seeing Wellington from an all-new perspective. You’ll hear how the great Polynesian explorer ‘Kupe arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand, the story of the taniwha
water monsterMāori | Noun that shaped the harbour the city is built around, and find out how Māori culture influences modern-day life in Wellington.
Traditionally, Māori used waka taua
War canoeMāori | Noun for voyaging, waka tētē
fishing canoeMāori | Noun for transporting goods and waka tīwai
dugout canoe without attached sidesMāori | Noun for racing and navigating rivers
For a truly unique and memorable group experience, gather your whānau
familyMāori | Noun and friends and join a waka tour with Te Wharewaka o Pōneke to learn more about the waka traditions and paddle on Wellington's beautiful harbour.
The crew will welcome you into the wharewaka
house of canoesMāori | Noun with a mihi whakatau
welcome speechMāori | Noun which is all about making connections with the crew and others on your tour.
You'll then learn how to hoe
paddle, oarMāori | Noun using the basic commands and chants,haka
to dance or performMāori | Verb and salutes before taking to the water aboard waka Poutu or Te Taumata.
Wellington’s harbour and hills are said to be shaped by two taniwha, mythical spirits monsters, one of whom opened up the harbour when he broke out to sea.
Te Wharewaka’s tours embody the Māori concept of manaakitanga, which is about respecting and caring for guests. Guide Ariki Brightwell explains that it’s something that’s at the core of these tours, from taking manuhiri
guestMāori | Noun through traditional practices and customs while on tour, to sharing kai
foodMāori | Noun at Karaka Café.
The cafe’s menu includes Māori kai using native ingredients and traditional cooking methods. A must-try is the café version of a traditional hāngi which includes house-smoked meats, oven steamed veggies and fry bread. Karaka Café focuses on bringing all the senses alight through taste, sound, language and sight.