[Blog] Revitalizing Canoe Traditions for Our Future

(August 21, 2023)

In Aotearoa (New Zealand), we seek to maintain strong paddling and sailing traditions. These traditions and practices are central to who we are as Māori.  It’s part of our whakapapa – our DNA. These practices strengthen our connection to each other and the natural world. 

What makes preserving canoe traditions important? Canoe traditions are found amongst many Indigenous Peoples across the world.  They are not only vehicles for traversing the world’s waterways, but for upholding our cultural knowledge, traditions, and values for the next generation. 

Here’s why it matters. Canoe traditions:

  • Transmit Mātauranga Māori – Our Knowledge and Traditions Intergenerationally
  • Support Environmental Stewardship – Our Relationship with Oceans and Marine Life
  • Build Leadership and Skills
  • Encourage Community Connection and Wellness
  • Celebrate Indigenous Heritage and Traditions

Brief History

Over the past 40 years, the collective revitalization of waka hourua (voyaging canoes) has played a vital role in preserving traditional voyaging and navigation knowledge across the Pacific. Waka hourua has also captured the hearts of many; however, not everyone has access to them. 

For the last three years, Rehua Innovations, a social enterprise and affiliate of Red Star International, Inc., has sought to revitalize the practice of matangirua (the art of dual-powered sailing using wind and paddle). Sailing outrigger canoes is a long-held tradition across Polynesia; however, its revival in Aotearoa (New Zealand) is in its infancy.  

We aim to create a bridge between paddling and sailing by promoting traditional sailing practices utilizing waka tere – sailing outrigger canoes.

Te Pahore o Rehua

You may have heard how recently we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of our “Te Pahore o Rehua’ canoe. We built this canoe to create exciting opportunities and a pathway for people to experience sailing.  We hope to contribute to the revitalization of the traditional sailing practice of matangirua across Aotearoa (New Zealand). 

Our goal is to create greater opportunities for others to participate in matangirua and experience traditional sailing in a new and exciting way.

Curious to Learn More?

  • Visit our Canoe Traditions page for a look into the world of our sacred canoe and sailing traditions, including programs.
  • Click here to support community-based programs that promote our cultural heritage while caring for our environment.