Waka-based venture proposed

Jimmy Brennan shows one of his waka that he hopes will form part of an educational and tourism venture. Photo: Simon Henderson
Jimmy Brennan shows one of his waka that he hopes will form part of an educational and tourism venture. Photo: Simon Henderson

Maori waka could one day be a familiar sight on the waters of Lake Hawea.

Boat builder and carver Jimmy Brennan is hoping to develop an educational and tourism venture using traditional waka, based at the Ngai Tahu nohoanga site by the lake.

Formerly of Christchurch, Mr Brennan had been in the area since October 2017.

He was based at the Albert Town camping ground, then in January moved to the nohoanga site.

Mr Brennan was of Ngai Tahu whanui, who were able to stay at a nohoanga site for up to 210 days a year.

‘‘The regulations are that you can stay for nine months and then you have to shift off for three months.’’

But Mr Brennan was hoping to be able to stay on the site all year round as there were challenges moving his Maori warcraft.

He also had two twin -hulled migration canoes that were housed in Christchurch which he hoped to bring to the area if his operation was successful.

His aim was to operate his boats from the site as well as put up an ‘‘authentic village’’ which could educate people on traditional boatbuilding techniques and provide an insight into Maori heritage.

‘‘From what I gather, if we have a convincing enough case we can go to a lease, but I’m not even sure about that.’’

Mr Brennan was interested in the potential for a wananga — a learning environment that taught Maori tradition and customs to young people.

They could be taught about aspects of Maori warrior training. including discipline, stick drills and chants, he said.

The two waka he had built would be a unique activity that enabled a greater understanding of Maori heritage.

‘‘These add another dimension to that because they are warcraft.’’

Mr Brennan thought a tourism venture, education that had a social policy and protection of nohoanga rights could coexist on the site.

‘‘I like this community. It is whether this community is prepared for this sort of product.’’

Mr Brennan held anopen day recently to welcome locals to the site and explain some of his plans.

‘‘I personally have been the recipient of a lot of good will, and I’d like to return that good will.’’

Engaging with locals was a key part of his approach.

‘‘I’ve talked to a lot of the stakeholders and people who have a vested interest in this land.’’

He was aware that many people were interested in developments on the lake front, and was keen to work with locals to help his vision come to fruition.

‘‘What I want to project is that I’m serious and I can achieve these things.’’


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